WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- The UK and Europe lag behind the US and other countries in trialling autonomous vehicles, but now the UK Government looks like it’s starting to thaw and let manufacturers loose in the cities
In the first test of its kind in Europe, next month Nissan will be demonstrating its autonomous driving technology on the public roads of London and they plan on using the event to showcase technology coming to future versions of the company’s Qashqai and electric Leaf cars. According to Nissan the technology they’re going to demonstrate will be able to manage “a diverse city environment”, which suggests that it will be more advanced than other self-drive systems that are currently on the market, most of which are still limited to motorways and simple, multi-lane roads.
During the trials Nissan is going to give government officials and technical and safety experts the opportunity to experience the autonomous technology in a modified Nissan Leaf which is part of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility Initiative which was set up last year to transform how cars are “driven, powered and integrated into wider society.”
However, while the trials will show the modified vehicles navigating themselves around complex city roads, the self-driving technology that’s going to be available to customers in the next Qashqai and Leaf will be restricted to single-lane driving on motorways – something that’s already offered by a plethora of other companies including Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes and Tesla.
“Government and industry are working together to build on our world-class reputation for excellence as a leading location for automotive R&D and manufacturing. We want to see centres like Nissan’s continue to develop, making us a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology so we can anchor the next generation of vehicle manufacturing and its supply chain here in the UK,” said Greg Clark, the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary.
“In just a few weeks’ time, there will be Nissan Leafs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology. Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe,” says Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe.
However, while Nissan will be one of the first companies allowed by the UK Government to test their self-driving cars in the capital the UK, and Europe for that matter still lag Singapore, who have been trialling self-driving buses and taxi’s since last year, and the US where self-driving car, as well as self-driving truck trials, have already taken place in Michigan, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.