Since the dawn of time, pedestrians in London have had to contend with knuckleheads driving cars on the wrong side of the road. Starting next month, those wacky Britishes will have to contend with no one driving cars on the wrong side of the road. But we’re not talking a phantom taxi here; instead, Nissan will be unleashing the scourge of the self-driving car upon the populace.
Make Like A Tree & Get Outta Here
The Japanese automaker has outfitted a fleet of its all-electric Leaf cars with autonomous driving capabilities, what the company is calling “Piloted Drive.” The cars will be used in Nissan’s first-ever European self-driving trials on public roads.
Why they chose one of the most populous and densely pedestrianed cities in the world for their trials is anyone’s guess. That roughly a third of the cars Nissan makes worldwide are produced in the UK might have something to do with it; the company also recently announced that they will soon begin production on two new models, exclusively in their UK factories.
The guvnas, a.k.a. the British government, has said it wants to encourage self-driving car R&D in Britain, with an eye on building a $1 trillion-plus industry by 2025. Seems like a pretty high mark, but sometimes you have to shoot for the moon—as they say, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. That’s not how the moon and stars work, but the sentiment is what’s important here, I suppose.
The Piloted Drive trials are the next step in Nissan’s plan to build a fully autonomous driving system for their production vehicles, with a target date of 2020. Starting next year, a single-lane-highway-only version of Piloted Drive will be available in select European Nissan models. Multi-lane-highway mode is planned for 2018, with the complete, autonomous city- and highway-driving system in the works for 2020.
Non-road trials (as in driving on a track, not off-roading) have been fairly successful thus far. Still, Londoners would be advised to stay off the streets for the next, oh, while, anyway. Might be a good year to order in.
The government has said it wants to encourage the development and testing of autonomous driving technology in Britain, helping build an industry to serve a worldwide market it reckons could be worth around 900 billion pounds ($1.1 trillion) by 2025.