Nissan & DeNA Launch Robo-taxis

Easy Ride Robo-vehicle Mobility Service

Easy Ride Robo-vehicle Mobility Service

Having acclimated to self-driving chairs and even self-driving slippers, the good people of Yokohama, Japan, are due for their next dose of futuristic fun: the automated taxi, AKA Easy Ride.

The so-called ‘robo-vehicle’ utility service is the brainchild of Nissan and software developer DeNA, who also have their fingers in the AI-pie. The idea is to allow anyone with the dedicated app (installed on their smartphone) to order a taxi to their location (as with Uber) or even to program daily scheduled pick-ups in advance. This could include their morning commute; picking up the kids from school; or even free them from car-rental at the airport.

But the fun does not end there. Once inside, and after getting the inevitable joke (“look, Mom, no driver!”) out of their systems, the onboard valet kicks into gear. It is not a simple A to B transport app. The navigation genie is voice activated and will use the onboard display (and one’s native language) to illustrate its point as it suggests sightseeing destinations or the best places for one’s bespoke shopping. It will even factor in prevalent traffic and weather to help users make informed choices, which they can also do straight from their phones.

Nissan paints a pretty picture in their concept video, which is impressive to say the least.

Easy Ride is currently in its test phase, its testing ground encompassing no more than the 4.5 kilometre area between Nissan HQ and the Yokohama World Porters shopping centre. During this ballot period users will have the opportunity to provide Nissan and DeNA with crucial feedback as to how they experienced the Easy Ride service; what more they would like to see on this fairground ride; and (most importantly) what they’d expect to pay for such convenience. To spur users to complete the survey, digital coupons to restaurants and retailers are on offer.

If all goes well, Nissan and DeNA envisage a full scale Easy Ride empire operational in Yokohama and beyond by the early 2020s (which might still optimistically mean 2025). Whenever it gets off the ground, Easy Ride is sure to put the Key to the City (any city) in the hands of whoever uses it.

Who knew not being in the driver’s seat could be so much fun? But if you prefer to be master of your own destin(ation)y, you can’t go wrong with a Nissan. Book your test drive today!


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