The latest auto giant to take on Uber
Nissan is preparing to launch its own self-driving taxi service, a sign that the Japanese auto giant is interested in challenging Uber in the race to deploy a fleet of money-making autonomous vehicles. Nissan will partner with DeNa to launch its Easy Ride robot taxi service on March 5th, the automaker said.
The testing will be limited at first. Riders based in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama, in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, will be able to hail one of the self-driving Nissan Leaf vehicles using a new app. The vehicles will be geofenced along a 4.5-kilometer route between Nissan’s global headquarters and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. Safety drivers will remain behind the wheel of the vehicles, and a remote operations center has been set up to monitor the car trips. The companies say they will expand the service to a much wider market by 2020.
There also appears to be a heavy emphasis on marketing deals with local Japanese businesses. According to Nissan:
An in-car tablet screen will show selections of nearly 500 recommended places of interest and events in the vicinity. Additionally, about 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 about their overall user experience, usage of content and coupons from local retailers and restaurants, and preferred pricing for the Easy Ride service.
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