Japan grants an autonomous electric car its own driver's licence | RenewEconomy

Japan grants an autonomous electric car its own driver’s licence

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The Japanese government has granted an autonomous Nissan Leaf a license plate, making it the first road-legal self-driving car.

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The race to build the world’s first production autonomous vehicle is on, and Japan’s increasingly aging population would make an excellent market for a car that can drive itself. The Japanese government has granted an autonomous Nissan Leaf a license plate, making it the first road-legal self-driving car in the island nation.

Nissan hopes to start selling self-driving cars as soon as 2020, and this license goes a long way towards that goal. Nissan also believes that self-driving cars and electric vehicles go hand-in-hand, which is why the LEAF was chosen as the test vehicle.

For now, Nissan is going to keep testing its self-driving Leaf on public roads, analyzing the data and improving the technology until it is ready for prime time.

self-driving-nissan-leafOf course there are numerous legal and ethical issues to take into consideration with self-driving cars, and the competition is fierce in what could be a gigantic, trillion-dollar technology market.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk hopes to deliver an electric car that can handle 90% of the driving by 2017, though Ford’s Alan Mulally seems to think the technology is a bit farther out.

Regardless, Nissan is well on its way to a self-driving car, and the Japanese government seems a bit more open-minded to autonomous vehicles than the average America.

That could give Japanese automakers a leg-up on American and European competition.

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