Nissan self-driving car takes to streets of London


Carmaker Nissan (TYO:7201) took its self-driving car to the streets of London for the company’s first European tests of the vehicle.

Guided by dozens of cameras and radars, Nissan’s autonomous vehicle was trialled in East London near the ExCel exhibition centre.

“You don’t want to go to the most difficult parts of London when you start. The system has to be tested,” Maarten Sierhuis, director of its research centre in Silicon Valley, said.

Britain has been doing its best to woo developers of self-driving vehicles, hoping to get a slice of an industry that is estimated to be worth 900 billion pounds worldwide by 2025.

The UK recently announced changes to allow for a single insurance policy to cover motorists driving conventionally and in the autonomous mode, as an attempt to get regulations in place to encourage the use of driverless cars from 2020.

Britain’s welcome of the autonomous cars helped sway Nissan to pick London for its first European test.

Inside the self-driving car, the vehicle can switch from conventional to self-driving mode from just the touch of a button. A screen identifies the nearest vehicles to the car in red and green.

Nissan isn’t the first carmaker to have carried out tests. Google (NASDAQ:GOOAV) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) have carried out several self-driving tests in the United States and elsewhere. Jaguar Land Rover is planning to test its autonomous cars in Britain by 2020.

“We’re thinking of testing in the Netherlands and Paris. It’s not easy to go and test everywhere because we need to create maps, we need to get approval from the regulators and then it is expensive to set up a test,” Sierhuis said, speaking of Nissan’s hopes to continue testing the autonomous vehicles.

Not everyone is on board with the self-driving cars yet, and may need some covincing. A recent survey by the London School of Economics found that 55 percent of UK motorists said they were not omfortable driving alongside autonomous car.