Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Autonomous Drive Nissan LEAF

Prime Minister of Japan rides in first Autonomous Drive public road test for Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF outfitted with Autonomous Drive made its first public road test in Japan with the country's Prime Minister as its passenger. Obviously a big moment for the technology Nissan plans to roll out in just a few years. Watch video of the drive here.

November 9th was the first public road debut for the Nissan LEAF Autonomous Drive. Several self-driving cars were in attendance from various manufacturers as Japan pushes forward with mass market plans for autonomous cars. Nissan will likely be the first to bring the technology to market, planning a 2020 release.

Nissan announced it Autonomous Drive program several years ago, but made headlines this year when it said it would have it in vehicles on the market by 2020. The test bed they've been using, publicly unveiled at this years Nissan 360 event in Southern California, is the Nissan LEAF electric car.

The LEAF Autonomous Drive was given a special license plate in Japan for road testing and Saturday, it took its first drive publicly with the Prime Minister as its VIP passenger. The Japanese government seems self-driving cars as a big part of the nation's sustainable future and relief from road congestion and heavily burdened public transport systems. They also see their car manufacturers as leading players in this game, potentially bringing huge economic growth.

“With the public road demonstration for the Autonomous Drive held in the presence of the Prime Minister, I believe that a great step has been taken towards the realization of Autonomous Drive. Nissan will pursue a safer, more comfortable and environmentally-friendly mobility by further fortifying our cooperative relations with the many government agencies and people involved," Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga said.

Here is video about the Autonomous Drive event:

And the Prime Minister's ride in the LEAF Autonomous Drive:

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