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Nissan tests self-driving cars on Japanese roads

Tokyo has become a testing ground for autonomous vehicle technologies.

Nissan is testing self-driving vehicle prototypes on public roads in Tokyo, Japan.

On Monday, the Japanese automaker said that the technology behind the trials is ProPILOT, an autonomous vehicle system being pushed towards Level Four capabilities which, while not truly anonymous, will offer driver-assist functionality in new models.

Nissan tested the latest evolution of ProPILOT on a modified INFINITI Q50 sports sedan, which uses data collected from 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine millimeter-wave radars, six laser scanners and mapping technology which collates this information to build a map of the driver's environment, possible obstacles, and hazards in real-time.

The car would be capable of taking control of the trip and -- hopefully -- safely delivering driver and passengers to their destination.

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Nissan

The company claims the technology provides a "human-like driving feel that gives passengers peace of mind."

A pared-down and tested version of ProPILOT will be included in the new 2018 Nissan LEAF, as well as the 2018 Rogue SUV, Nissan Serena, and X-Trail.

However, the public technology is set at Level Two applications at present.

This will include controls for the vehicles to automatically maintain speed and distance from other cars, as noted by The Verge, and keep the car in the correct lane by detecting markings on the road.

Blind-spot detection is another useful feature for mainstream drivers, as the vehicle will keep drivers in a lane until it is safe to move across.

See also: Tech Republic: Autonomous driving levels 0 to 5: Understanding the differences

Nissan expects the next evolution of its ProPILOT technology to hit the market in 2020.

"Ingenuity is at the heart of everything we do at Nissan," said Takao Asami, Nissan senior vice president in charge of research and advanced engineering. "Our next-generation ProPILOT prototype showcases technology that will be available for real-world use from 2020. Today's demonstration is another example of our successful work toward creating an autonomous driving future for all."

Autonomous vehicles have gained interested not only from technology companies and automakers worldwide but also from regulators.

Over in the United States, the National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked for feedback on potential changes to current rules which would ease the testing and deployment of self-driving technologies.

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