Nissan to test autonomous vehicles in London next month

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Nissan will bring autonomous Leafs to London next month, in Europe's first on-road autonomous vehicle trial.

Among the first people to ride in the self-driving vehicles will be safety and technology experts and government officials. Nissan UK technicians will be on hand to explain and demonstrate just how the technology works.

Much of the technological equipment that allows the vehicles to drive themselves is being developed at Nissan's European research and development centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. The centre also specialises in advanced fuel technologies.

Chairman of Nissan Europe, Paul Willcox, told the Independent: "In just a few weeks' time, there will be Nissan Leafs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology."

He added: "Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe."

It can be seen in new Leaf and Qashqai models, which will feature systems that will allow single-lane autonomous driving on motorways.

Nissan's test comes just months before a similar project planned by Volvo. The Swedish carmaker is to introduce a fleet of autonomous XC90s to the capital in a scheme called 'Drive Me London'.

The aim is to collect data from autonomous city driving, which will allow technicians to integrate real world information into the technology. By 2018, Volvo plans to have 100 of these vehicles operating on Britain's roads.

While Nissan's experiment is the first to be seen on the roads, other autonomous vehicles have been seen in London's pedestrianised areas.

The Greenwich Automated Transport Environment (GATEway) project in February 2015 saw a group of London residents travel in autonomous 'pods', in order to collect information on how people reacted to self-driving cars in their neighbourhood.