Nissan will start testing a version of its electric Leaf car with autonomous driving capabilities in London next month, kicking off its first European trials on public roads, Reuters reports. The Japanese carmaker also recently announced that it would be building two new vehicles in the UK, where it makes around a third of the total volume of vehicles produced overall.
Self-driving trials for Nissan are not entirely new; the company began testing its first prototype back in October on public roads, demonstrating Piloted Drive capabilities that are intended to become a fully autonomous driving system in production vehicles by 2020. Piloted Drive also has a single-lane, highway-only version that will be included on vehicles including a Qashqai SUV set for release next year in Europe.
The second iteration of its self-driving tech, on track for 2018, will introduce a multi-lane highway autonomous mode, with full autonomy across both city and highway again planned for 2020.
Nissan’s choice of the UK is probably held by the British government’s drive to create a nurturing regulatory climate for companies looking to test and develop autonomous drive systems in the country, as well as its strong existing relationship as one of the country’s top car producers.