Autonomous Nissan Leaf Set Loose on London's Streets

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【Summary】After stating that autonomous testing was coming up, Nissan finally took its self-driving Leaf to the streets of London.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 03, 2017 3:15 PM PT
Autonomous Nissan Leaf Set Loose on London's Streets

When it comes to testing autonomous vehicles, the majority of automakers have chosen specific locations in the United States. Silicon Valley, for instance, has become a hot spot for companies and automakers, while Detroit, MI is close behind as an up-and-coming location, as well. Nissan, on the other hand, has gone with a different location.

Nissan Takes Another Step

A few months ago, we reported that the Japanese automaker would look to test an autonomous Leaf in London in the near future. At the time, Nissan was hoping to draw more companies and automakers to Britain as the country hopes to enter the booming industry that, as Reuters pointed out, could be worth roughly $1.1 trillion by 2025.

Nissan finally achieved its goal when it let a self-driving Leaf, which was guided by numerous radars and cameras that are part of its ProPilot system, around the busy streets of London at the end of February, reports Reuters. The electric car reportedly traveled up to 50 mph and traversed smaller, local roads, along with larger, multi-lane ones. The test was clearly a way to showcase the how the next generation of technology and cars will affect travel. 

As Reuters points out, Britain is hard at work on becoming a prime location for companies and automakers interested in coming out with self-driving technology to test their machines. To reach its goal, the country recently laid down a few rules for autonomous cars, including requiring car insurance companies to have two types of insurance plans for drivers behind the wheel of a self-driving car. 

Why London? 

Maarten Sierhuis, Director of Nissan's research center in Silicon Valley believes the Japanese automaker chose London for the site of its first European test because of the country's willingness to allow autonomous vehicle testing. 

"It's not everywhere in Europe that we can go and drive on the road," said Sierhuis. "You don't want to go to the most difficult parts of London when you start. The system has to be tested." 

The Leaf, as the report points out, was being tested near the London City Airport and the ExCeL exhibition center, which are both just east of London. To get the necessary requirements to test its self-driving car in the city, Nissan worked closely in partnership with regulator Transport for London, as well as local police. The automaker supplied both organizations with a detailed route that the Leaf would take, as well as the rules the car would be following. Nissan also kept a log of the vehicle's travels in the case of an accident. 

Nissan isn't the only automaker looking towards London as the location for carrying out its self-driving tests. As Reuters points out, Jaguar Land Rover has plans to test approximately 100 self-driving cars in Britain by 2020. Volvo also has plans to start testing an autonomous vehicle in London, as well. 

Since this week's initial tests in London went well for Nissan and it's autonomous Leaf, the Japanese automaker will be looking towards further tests in other European cities, as Nissan hopes to role out a Leaf with its autonomous technology by 2020. 

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