Technology 4 min read

Nissan and DeNA's Easy Ride Brings Robo-Taxi Trials to Japan in 2018

Anton Ukolov |

Anton Ukolov |

Nissan is outpacing its own expectations by starting a trial run of their self-driving taxi cabs in Japan later this year.

Everyone wants self-driving cars. For all the clamor, however, there are multiple companies trying to hustle their way into a market that doesn’t even have a truly commercial product yet.

At this point, however, it’s pretty clear that there will indeed soon be self-driving cars on the market. If you need a good example of why this is so, just take a look at Nissan.

At this point, it's pretty clear that robo-taxis will soon patrol the streets. #youready? #I'mreadyClick To Tweet

Years ago, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made the bold claim that they would be developing and producing self-driving cars by 2020. Fast-forward to today, and we have a company that is miles ahead of schedule.

Later this year, Nissan will be beginning trials for its robo-taxi service, called Easy Ride. The progress is fortuitous for Nissan and if they can keep up with this momentum, they will be poised to be one of the biggest names in self-driving cars.

However, they won’t be alone. Other companies have already started trials on their self-driving cars, ensuring that competition will be steep the moment the technology becomes commercially viable.

Let’s take a closer look at Easy Ride.

Nissan’s Robo-Taxi: Easy Ride

AI-driven cars are a hot topic right now and since the tech is basically imminent, it’s a safe investment for an auto giant such as Nissan.

Easy Ride‘s trials will begin in Yokohama, Japan. Customers will be able to order a car with an app. This app will show passengers their intended destination as well as recommendations for nearby businesses and restaurants that might interest them.

It even has an option for taking the scenic route. My guess is that most people will stop taking that option after the novelty of a self-driving cab wears off, but time will tell.

For those who can read Japanese (or just want to see some pictures), you can check out Easy Ride’s website here. Just in case you’ll be in Japan from March 5th to 18th of this year, you might also want to sign up.

If Easy Ride works as intended, then Nissan could become the biggest name in self-driving cars in Japan. Presumably, that could open doors for Easy Ride to gradually find itself on other continents.

Given the competition that is already rising in the United States, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for Nissan to focus on Japan first. Let’s take a look at what’s going on stateside, so we can get some perspective on this latest move toward driver-less vehicles.

Homegrown Self-Driving Cars

Over in the United States, big companies like Google are already performing public trials of their self-driving cars.

For example, Google’s Waymo service has already started public trials in parts of Arizona. If you look at their 2016 disengagement reports, the cars had to be taken over manually only 124 times over 635,000 collective autonomous miles. That’s not perfect, but when coupled with Waymo’s website, it makes for some seriously good PR.

Other companies such as Uber and GM are throwing their hat into the robo-taxi ring, but Waymo is a bit ahead of them.

Uber had some brief public trials, but it didn’t go quite as well for them as it did for Waymo.

Credit: Cruise Automation

As for GM’s entry, well, they are nearing public trials now. They aren’t leading the pack, but if their public trials both happen and go well, they could make quite a name for themselves within the industry.

Either way, one thing is pretty clear. The self-driving taxi is coming and it may be coming sooner than we think. Before long, it’ll be time for us to ask ourselves if we are really ready to put our faith in a machine to drive us around town.

Are you ready to take a ride in a self-driving vehicle? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!

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William is an English teacher, a card carrying nerd, And he may run for president in 2020. #truefact #voteforedgy

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