Cars without drivers scoot around Nissan plant, towing cars

December 5, 2016 by Yuri Kageyama
Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf, with no one inside, scoots during a demonstration of their Intelligent Vehicle Towing system at Nissan Oppama plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Nissan Motor Co. is testing out self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan to tow vehicles on a trailer to the wharf for loading without anyone behind the steering wheel.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Nissan Motor Co. is testing self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan that can tow vehicles on a trailer to the wharf for loading on transport ships.

The Japanese automaker thinks the technology will, in the long run, save costs and boost efficiency. The tests also can add to knowledge needed to take such onto public roads.

Nissan executive Haruhiko Yoshimura said the automaker hoped to use the technology throughout the Oppama plant by 2019, and in overseas plants in the future.

During a demonstration Monday, a Leaf car with no one inside scooted along the road, pulling a trailer with three other Leafs on it, stopped properly for other vehicles, and then veered into a parking lot.

But one ran into trouble, refused to move and was not able to take part in the demonstration.

Kazuhiro Doi, a Nissan vice president, acknowledged such glitches showed a challenge unique to the technology.

"If there are drivers, they can take action," he said. "Mechanical operations are all there is in a driverless car."

Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Infiniti luxury models and the Leaf electric car, now has just two of the self-driving Leaf cars.

Nissan Motor Co.'s "Leaf" runs with no one inside during a demonstration of the automaker's Intelligent Vehicle Towing system at Nissan Oppama plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Nissan Motor Co. is testing out self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan to tow vehicles on a trailer to the wharf for loading without anyone behind the steering wheel.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

For all the vehicles produced at the Oppama plant to be towed in a driverless way, five more such vehicles are needed, according to Nissan.

People still had to get inside each of the towed vehicles to drive them to the proper wharf, but Nissan hopes that as self-driving technology advances cars will drive themselves into the ships, up the plank on their own.

Driverless cars are still not allowed on regular in Japan, although major automakers are all working on such . Driverless driving is legal within private facilities like Nissan's.

In commercial products available in Japan, the vehicles, with some variation of autonomous driving, can stop on their own before a crash or stay inside the lane on their own for highway driving, although all must have drivers.

Nissan Motor Co.'S "Leaf", with no one inside, pulls a trailer with three other Leafs on it, during a demonstration of the automaker's Intelligent Vehicle Towing system at Nissan Oppama plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Nissan Motor Co. is testing out self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan to tow vehicles on a trailer to the wharf for loading without anyone behind the steering wheel. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Nissan, allied with Renault SA of France, has been carrying out tests with driverless towing since last year.

A Nissan Motor Co.'s "Leaf" with no one inside, is surrounded by the media, during a demonstration of the automaker's Intelligent Vehicle Towing at Nissan Oppama plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Nissan Motor Co. is testing out self-driving cars at one of its plants in Japan to tow vehicles on a trailer to the wharf for loading without anyone behind the steering wheel. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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6 comments

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coffeemaker
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 05, 2016
So basically we can thank these cars for taking away all the driving jobs in the world, making sure the future generation never learns how to operate machinery, and causing mass unemployment. What I don't understand is how the CEO thinks these will be on the mass market in 2020, when they took a few cars and one wouldn't even finish their task. They need to be up to par to sell millions of these cars.So basically what I get from this article is that all the driving jobs in America and elsewhere will be gone and a few people get insanely rich while everyone else suffers.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2016
making sure the future generation never learns how to operate machinery, and causing mass unemployment.

OK, explain this to me: what's the point of keeping manual labor jobs in existence? Just for the sake of keeping those in existence?

In the 19th century we had the 'weaver-revolts' where weavers wanted to demolish all machines used for weaving garments because it was taking their jobs. Is that really the kind of attitude we want? Or do we rather come to realize that 9-to5 is not a natural state of things we should aspire to and set about changing society to one where people work at what they enjoy - rather than work at something for the sake of not starving otherwise?

I know, this isn't 'capitalist'. But I'd live in such a society any day over a capitalist one where manual labor jobs are kept alive just for the sake of keeping people under (monetary) control.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2016
Coffeemaker has a legitimate concern and just because you feel safe in your position at the moment doesn't mean it should be ignored. We live in a world that is struggling to address global warming because a few like the Koch brothers make tremendous money from oil and coal and are able to use some of that money to buy the politicians and propaganda they want to get their way most of the time. The fact that we struggle to address such an obvious problem like global warming doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the rise of AI won't be our undoing.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Dec 11, 2016
I do not see the connection between AI and Climate Change. Those concerns are different, I think. Both are valid individually.
underbone
not rated yet Jan 25, 2017
I agree with you gkam. AI are actually helping us solve climate change.
underbone
not rated yet Jan 26, 2017
I'm pretty impress that such a small vehicle has a that towing power.

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