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Robotaxis Roaming Around Yokohama Are Winning Over Unlikely Fans

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A safety driver behind the wheel of a Nissan robotaxi.

The robotaxi service is one part of Nissans Ambition 2030 long-term strategy announced earlier this week. Also included are plans to equip over 2.5 million vehicles with its ProPilot semi-autonomous driving system and spend some 2 trillion yen ($17.7 bil

Credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Nissan Motor Co. is carrying out Japan's largest demonstration to date of autonomous vehicles in an area to the south of Tokyo, as the automaker moves toward rolling out a commercial robotaxi service. 

Although regulations and the need for further technology improvements mean a full-scale launch is still some years away, Nissan has been testing the self-driving taxi service in Yokohama, near its corporate headquarters. Passengers can book rides via a smartphone app that covers some 650 routes and embark and disembark from 23 points around the city.

For now, the autonomous taxis have operators sitting ready to take over in case the vehicles' various sensors encounter a situation that requires human assistance. The goal is to eventually have such "safety drivers" monitor a fleet of robotaxis remotely. In this way, savings on driver fees could lead to lower fares versus conventional taxis, according to Nissan.

From Bloomberg
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