A semi-autonomous Nissan Leaf will begin testing across Japan after the car maker received approval from authorities to operate the 'driverless vehicle' on public roads.
Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn took delivery of the country's first licence plate for a vehicle equipped with advanced driver assist systems, which allow the Leaf to function without physical input in a range of driving situations.
Ghosn said real-world testing was an important step in the development of company’s Autonomous Drive technology, which it plans to integrate into “multiple, commercially viable” vehicles by 2020.
“Road testing of the underlying technologies is critical to maintaining our leadership position and we are grateful to the Government of Japan for its support,” he said.
The semi-autonomous Nissan Leaf is capable of a number of automatic functions including lane keeping, lane changing, overtaking slower or stopped vehicles, decelerating behind congestion on freeways and stopping at red lights.
Nissan executive vice president for research and development Mitsuhiko Yamashita said the driverless Leaf prototype united two of the company’s key pillars.
“The realisation of the Autonomous Drive system is one of our greatest goals, because zero fatalities stands alongside zero emissions as major objective of Nissan's R&D,” Yamashita said.
“Through public road testing, we will further develop the safety, efficiency and reliability of our technology.”