Nissan is preparing to launch its own autonomous taxi service, a sign that the Japanese car giant is interested in challenging Uber in the race to deploy a fleet of autonomous vehicles that make money. Nissan will partner with DeNa to launch its Easy Ride robot taxi service on March 5, the automaker said.
The test will be limited at the beginning. Passengers from the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama, in the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa, can take one of the Nissan Leaf autonomous vehicles with a new application. The vehicles will be geofanced along a 4.5 kilometer route between Nissan's world headquarters and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. The safety drivers will remain behind the wheel of the vehicles and a remote operations center has been set up to supervise travel by car. The companies say they will expand the service to a much larger market by 2020.
There also seems to be a strong emphasis on marketing agreements with local Japanese companies. According to Nissan:
A tablet screen in the car will show selections of nearly 500 places of interest and recommended events in the surrounding area. In addition, around 40 discount coupons for retailers and restaurants in the area are available for download on the participants' own smartphones.
Participants will be asked to complete a survey of their general user experience, the use of content and coupons from local retailers and restaurants, and preferential prices for the Easy Ride service.
DeNa (pronounced D-N-A) is a Japanese online services company better known as the key contributor to Nintendo's smartphone efforts. In addition to his work with Mario's manufacturers, DeNa is also extremely active in the transportation sector, with initiatives related to autonomous taxis, carpooling and parking space sharing. In 2016, the company launched its own autonomous bus service called Robot Shuttle. (The Verge's Sam Byford said the following about the preprogrammed demo: "It did not hang").
Nissan will join the ranks of Uber, Lyft, Ford, GM, Didi Chuxing and Waymo
After it launches its service, Nissan will join the ranks of Uber, Lyft, Ford, GM, Didi Chuxing, Waymo and other companies that are immersing themselves in the world of autonomous vehicles. Experts predict that taxi services operating in dense urban environments with geoperimetraje will be the first encounter with cars without a driver for many people.
Some automakers focus on generating a large amount of revenue by selling autonomous vehicles to companies that assemble automobiles as their driverless taxi fleets increase. But others, like Ford, GM and now Nissan, are interested in taking a part of that potentially lucrative market by launching their own taxi services. What they lack in data and algorithms, they can compensate the capacities and the scale of manufacture.
Nissan will have great competition in its own field. Sony recently announced that it would partner with Daiwa Motor Transportation and five other local taxi companies in Japan to build a new taxi system to connect drivers with passengers through a mobile application. Both thrusts come at the same time that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was recently in Tokyo, is trying to make new incursions into the Japanese market. Khosrowshahi met with Toyota executives about "growing our #autonomous association and lessons 4 in building a great culture," he tweeted.