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Japan Prime Minister Abe Goes Public with Autonomous Drive Car

November 9 – Tokyo – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took Japan in a new direction Saturday – an Autonomous Drive one, as he rode in the Nissan AD vehicle’s public street debut.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe

Using a Nissan LEAF equipped with AD technology, the car’s cameras, laser scanners and radar detect road conditions and can automate control of the vehicle’s acceleration, handling, brakes and more.

In a Tokyo drive near the national parliament, Abe took turns riding in the autonomous cars of Nissan, Honda and Toyota, saying the technologies were a tribute to Japan’s cutting-edge leadership and growth potential.

“Today I road in the Autonomous Drive cars from Toyota, Honda and Nissan,” said Prime Minister Abe told the media.

“In particular, in tough driving conditions such as tight curves and lane changing using autonomous driving, I think our Japanese technologies are among the world’s best.”

Nissan's Shiga and PM Abe

Nissan sees the Tokyo demonstration as a further milestone in its pledge to bring AD vehicles to mass markets by 2020, which it announced in August at the Nissan 360 event in California.

The Zero Emission, Zero Fatality commitment behind full implementation of Autonomous Drive across its model lines will see continued public road demonstrations and investment research, said Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga.

“The autonomous car is the goal for the perfect safety car and for supporting drivers,” said Shiga. “I think we should promote – we should expand – this technology to be installed in many cars. This is really a good contribution to the sustainable mobility line.”

Nissan will build a proving ground for AD testing in Japan, while the national and local governments’ roles in promoting roll out and infrastructure will be key.

An autonomous LEAF at the PM's office

“The role of national and local governments is very important. First of all, it’s not allowed for a human driver to fully delegate the driving operation to a machine as of today,” said Takao Asami, Nissan Senior Vice President.

“Secondly, we have to find new regulations – how to take care of accidents, if they happen, whose responsibility it will be. “

Prime Minister Abe’s Tokyo road trip will be the first of many for Nissan AD cars in future weeks with a highway run not far off.

Watch highlights of ride with Prime Minister Abe below:


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