Nissan is continuing its push toward marketing a self-driving car, announcing today that it began testing on public roads in Japan.
In the latest of what’s sure to be a long-running series of publicity stunts, the Japanese automaker sent its self-driving car down the Sagami Expressway in Kanagawa prefecture with the prefecture’s governor Yuji Kuroiwa and Nissan vice chairman Toshiyuki Shiga on board.
Nissan is aiming to have its autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020, but one of the biggest hurdles those cars will face has nothing to do with actually making them work. Companies hoping to sell self-driving cars will need to contend with the perceptions people have about whether or not they are safe.
California, Nevada and Florida currently allow companies to test their autonomous car technology on public roads.
Nissan’s self-driving Leaf was the first vehicle to be issued a license plate in Japan last September. It uses Nissan’s “Autonomous Drive” capability to detect road conditions and operate essential controls including the brakes, steering and acceleration. On highways, they can operate in a fully automatic mode that is able to merge, change lanes and keep a safe distance from other cars.
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