Nissan to conduct first European autonomous driving tests on public roads in UK next month


Nissan will bring real-world demonstrations of autonomous driving cars to the UK next month, with the on-road demonstrations taking place in London, enabling the vehicles and their passengers to cover a diverse city environment.

Passengers, including government officials and technical and safety experts, will be given the opportunity to experience and test the technology in a live urban environment in a modified Nissan Leaf. These will be the first demonstrations of Nissan’s autonomous drive technology on public roads in Europe, representing the next step in the company’s Intelligent Mobility blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered, and integrated into wider society. The news follows recent announcements that both the refreshed Qashqai and the new Leaf, both coming soon, will be equipped with autonomous drive technology to enable single lane autonomous driving on motorways.

The announcement was made following a visit to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, by Greg Clark, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. NTCE, the European R&D hub for Nissan, is developing autonomous drive technologies as well as new advanced fuel, energy and efficiency technologies, in collaboration with the Nissan Technical Centre and Advanced Technical Centre in Japan.

Opened in 1991, NTCE’s current projects include the development of vehicle-to-grid technology integration, electric battery advancements, and the new Qashqai model, which is scheduled to launch later this year. Versions of the new Qashqai will be available to customers with autonomous drive functionality for single-lane driving on the motorway. Last week, Nissan announced that a new version of its all-electric Leaf model will be coming soon, also equipped with the same autonomous drive technology. Clark was given a preview of the technology with a demonstration around the grounds of the technical center.

During his NTCE visit, Clark said, “Government and industry are working together to build on our world class reputation for excellence as a leading location for automotive R&D and manufacturing. We want to see centers, like Nissan’s here in Cranfield, continue to develop, making us a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology, so we can anchor the next generation of vehicle manufacturing and its supply chain here in the UK.”

Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, noted, “It was our pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield and to show him how we don’t just make great cars in the UK, we create future technology here too. With future models secured and cutting-edge innovation being developed right here in the UK, we’re looking forward to a strong future of designing, engineering and manufacturing in the country, for customers right across the world. In just a few weeks’ time, there will be Nissan Leafs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology. Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).