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Business News/ Auto News / Nissan plans addresses ‘Taxi Driver Shortage’ in Japan with autonomous ride-share program: All details

Nissan plans addresses ‘Taxi Driver Shortage’ in Japan with autonomous ride-share program: All details

Nissan plans to launch an autonomous ride-share service in Japan within three years, addressing a taxi driver shortage. Safety discussions with the government will guide a gradual rollout. The move responds to challenges arising from an aging population and transportation gaps in suburban areas.

For representation purposes only (REUTERS)Premium
For representation purposes only (REUTERS)

Nissan Motor Co. is set to launch an autonomous vehicle ride-share service in Japan within the next three years, addressing the shortage of taxi drivers in the country, particularly as the population ages. The automaker plans to initiate a trial service in Yokohama using a Serena-based vehicle, with the goal of expanding the program nationwide by the fiscal year 2027, as announced by Kazuhiro Doi, the Vice-President of Nissan Research and Advanced Engineering, during a briefing at the company's Yokohama headquarters.

The initial trial in Yokohama's Minato Mirai area will involve 20 vehicles equipped with a safety monitor in the driver's seat. Passengers will have the ability to make reservations for the autonomous ride-share service. Nissan intends to engage in safety-related discussions with the government and proceed with a gradual rollout of the program.

This initiative comes at a time when concerns over the safety of autonomous vehicles have been raised, notably following an incident involving General Motors Co.'s Cruise autonomous driving unit in December. The Cruise unit dismissed top executives after one of its cars struck and dragged a pedestrian in San Francisco. Honda Motor Co. also cast doubt on a previously announced plan to deploy self-driving cars in central Tokyo by early 2026 in partnership with GM.

In response to the challenges posed by an aging population and a dearth of transportation services in suburban areas, Japan's transport ministry has formed a committee to collaborate with local governments and other stakeholders in laying the groundwork for self-driving vehicles.

Kazuhiro Doi emphasized the significance of addressing Japan's transportation-related challenges, stating, "Japan is facing a big transportation-related problem, which will get bigger in the future. There is a lack of suburban taxi and bus services due to a decreasing and aging population. A time may come when there are no more drivers."

Nissan's autonomous vehicle ride-share service aims to provide a viable solution to these challenges and contribute to the evolution of transportation in Japan. The company is committed to ensuring the safety and reliability of the autonomous technology through collaboration with the government and a careful, phased approach to implementation.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)


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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 12:33 PM IST
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