Nissan Gets Into the Robotaxi Craze, Chooses China Instead of the U.S.

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Nissan is trying to keep up with automotive software development by stepping up its game in China. Self-driving cars are considered by a couple of companies as the next big thing, even though nobody has managed to launch a vehicle that can drive itself with no human interaction or supervision needed – for now. But here’s what Nissan plans on doing.
Nissan announced it will have a new entity established in Suzhou, China. Nissan Mobility Service is the company that will have as its core mission the development of robotaxis and other intelligent transport initiatives. Officials say they aim to provide “all-new riding experiences with easier, more convenient mobility services.”

The new company will operate in the Xiangcheng District, a place that is close to Shanghai. It intends on establishing a fleet of robotaxis that could render cab drivers obsolete and will help with advancing the software that’s going to be installed on passenger or commercial vehicles.

The development and testing of new software will be done together with WeRide, a company that actively works on deploying Level 4 autonomous driving solutions. Their current efforts are concentrated on deploying robotaxis, driverless public transport buses, delivery vans, and even street cleaning vehicles.

But it’s easier said than done. Cruise’s autonomous taxis drive themselves, but they do so only with human supervision and when it’s not foggy or raining. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD Beta) can help the car navigate by itself, but the person behind the wheel is always responsible and must keep their hands on the steering wheel. Moreover, these features are disabled on highways and are replaced by Autopilot – a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that is either limited to just cruise control (matching the speed of traffic) and assistive steering or can include other features like smart summon and autopark.

According to the SAE J3016 standard, Level 4 autonomous driving means the vehicle can come without a steering wheel and/or pedals and the human will not be asked to take control of the car. But automated driving features are available only under limited conditions and will not engage until all the prerequisites are met.

Nissan most likely chose China as the place where it will conduct this new initiative because it has a presence there since 1972 and sold 1.38 million vehicles in the country last year. Moreover, its partnership with Dongfeng is what could guarantee a top spot in the light commercial vehicle market.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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