Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, prepares to depart on the first trip on public roads taken by Nissan's Autonomous Drive Test car.  
Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, prepares to depart on the first trip on public roads taken by Nissan's Autonomous Drive Test car.  

Yokohama, Japan -- November 11, 2013 -- Nissan's Autonomous Drive test car has taken to the public roads in Japan for the first time, with the country's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on board. The all-electric Nissan LEAF vehicle, which was the first with autonomous drive capability to be granted a license plate in Japan, drove on the roads around the National Diet Front Garden, a public park in the centre of Tokyo between Japan's parliament and the Imperial Palace.

The attendance of the Prime Minister underlines the support of Japan's government for the development of autonomously driven vehicles. The event was made possible through the support and planning of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The three participating domestic motor companies worked with the close cooperation with the related ministries and government offices.
 
“With the public road demonstration for the Autonomous Drive held in the presence of the Prime Minister, I believe that a great step has been taken towards the realization of Autonomous Drive," said Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga.
 
Nissan says the all-electric LEAF is serving as a base vehicle for the development of autonomous drive technology. Driving on public roads is made possible with technology to detect road conditions. The vehicle is equipped with cameras, laser scanners and radar, which identify nearby pedestrians, traffic lights, traffic signs and other objects. The data is processed by an onboard computer that makes decisions and automatically operates controls for the vehicle's acceleration, handling, brakes and more.
 
Nissan first revealed the autonomous drive prototype technology at “Nissan 360," a vast test drive and product showcase event held in California in August-September 2013. The company announced it will be ready with commercially-viable Autonomous Drive by 2020, and the technology will be available across the model range within two vehicle generations. 
 
You can see video footage of Prime Minister Abe's trip in the player below. 
 

 

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