Called Easy Ride, the service is essentially an AI-controlled version of a ride-hailing app like Uber.
You simply open up the app, summon the cab and then it arrives. Once inside the cab there’s a touchscreen and voice-activated assistant who helps you choose your destination.
Once you’ve decided where you’re going that’s it, you sit back and let the car do the rest.
Now there are some caveats. For starters the cars are assigned to predetermined routes in much the same way busses are, so as long as your destination is along one of those you’ll be fine.
Secondly this is a very early field test which means the cars are only going to be travelling around Yokohama in Japan where they’ll be driving to and from Nissan’s global headquarters.
To make sure the cars behave themselves, Nissan has set up a command centre from which human operators will monitor the entire fleet and step in if anything goes wrong.
What’s really impressive about this trial is that it employees self-driving cars in the one area where they traditionally struggle: busy urban centres. Self-driving cars have a remarkable ability to make motorway driving look easy, but place them in an environment filled with cyclists, pedestrians and the occasional pet and they’ll start to complain.
Everything going to plan Nissan says it will rollout a full version of the service in 2020.