Nissan will begin testing its Easy Ride self-driving taxi service in Yokohama, Japan on March 5, 2018, with plans to launch the full service by the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In collaboration with Tokyo-based mobile app developer DeNA, Nissan will run the trial service on a 2.8 mile-route running from their headquarters to the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. While limited to start, the opening of Nissan’s Easy Ride service marks an significant step forward into the future of autonomous vehicles and urban transportation.
The Easy Ride system is designed to incorporate user interests into its presentation, offering helpful information on points of interest, events, and shops. To build further ties between the self-driving taxi and local business, Easy Ride will offer coupons for recommended restaurants and businesses for users to exchange after they’ve departed their self-driving taxi. Easy Ride will also record feedback from users regarding their ride experience and their opinion on what a fair fare should be.
Nissan’s initial trial is planned to run for only a few weeks. However, the company plans to conduct further, more extensive tests. Recognizing the need to serve an Olympic-sized constituency as well as Japan’s aging population, the automaker plans to add more routes, implement a multi-lingual interface, and refine arrival and departure procedures over the next two years. To assuage any concerns regarding the safety of the self-driving taxis, Nissan will link each taxi to a remote monitoring center, where workers observe each ride and could take the wheel from afar if necessary.