Nissan Self-Driving Cars Hit the Road in Japan

The demo marks a significant step forward in the company’s long-term plan to offer self-driving mobility services in Japan, by 2027

Graham Hope

June 4, 2024

2 Min Read

Japanese automaker Nissan has showcased its in-house developed self-driving tech as part of its plan to provide autonomous mobility services by 2027.

The public demonstration was carried out on the streets around the company’s global HQ in Yokohama, a city of 3.8 million people located to the south of Tokyo.

The demo featured an electric Nissan LEAF prototype equipped with an extensive sensor suite comprising of 14 cameras, 10 radars and 6 lidars, and was designed to illustrate the tech’s progress in dealing with challenging urban scenarios.


This was a significant increase in roof-mounted sensors compared with earlier prototypes previously demonstrated by the company, expanding the detection area around the car and also enabling more accurate identification of its surroundings.


The resulting improved functionality saw the LEAF easily coping with a series of complex scenarios in traffic, as it predicted the behavior of pedestrians, conducted lane changes when merging and judged when to safely enter intersections.

Although the demo was conducted at what Nissan described as “SAE Level 2 equivalent” and a safety driver was present at all times behind the wheel, it marks a significant step forward in the company’s long-term intent to offer self-driving mobility services in Japan, starting in around three years.

Related:Nissan Launching Commercial Self-Driving Taxi Service in Japan

Earlier this year, it published a comprehensive road map that outlined its plans. By fiscal year 2027, Nissan believes it will be in a position to provide commercial self-driving taxi services in “three to four” municipalities – including rural areas – with “tens of cars” being deployed via partnerships with local authorities and transport operators.

Following the latest demo, the next significant step in this process is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, when Nissan starts trials in Minato Mirai, a busy waterfront area for business, shopping and tourism in Yokohama.

This will see the level of autonomous functionality in the cars increased as the company aims to gauge the level of acceptance towards self-driving vehicles among potential customers.

The program is being conducted with the support of a number of different Japanese authorities, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and other central ministries.

Compared with many other countries, Japan is on the front foot regarding autonomous transportation, due to its labor shortages and lack of mobility options for elderly people in rural locations, and it has proven proactive in terms of introducing legislation.

Related:Japan is One Step Closer to Launching Driverless Vehicles

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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