Two weeks after taking Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a short drive around the National Diet Front Garden in central Tokyo, the Leaf packing Nissan's Autonomous Drive (AD) technology has hit the public highways for the first time.
The drive took place on November 25 with the modified Leaf entering the Sagami Expressway, southwest of Yokohama, at 40 km/h (25 mph), before driving at speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph). For the spin, Shinzo Abe relinquished his seat alongside Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga to Yuji Kuroiwa. Kuroiwa is the Governor of Kanagawa prefecture, which will be home to Nissan's Autonomous Driving proving ground.
"This technology is still in its infant stage. It lacks road experience, but by accumulating those experiences, the technology will further evolve," Kuroiwa says. "The more it learns from driving time, the more intelligent the system becomes, as well as safer. I was amazed by the capabilities of this car."
Nissan says the highway outing is the latest in what will be a list of road milestones at it works to bring its Automated Driving technologies to its entire model line within two vehicle generations. It expects to have its first commercially-available Autonomous Drive vehicle on the road by 2020.
The video below shows the autonomous highway drive.