It may look like a perfectly ordinary Nissan Leaf, but it's far from that. This one can take you on any journey you plot on its navigation screen - through suburbs and traffic, over bridges and on motorways at speeds of up to 80mph - without requiring anyone to touch its wheel.

Engineer Tetsuya Iijima and I did it earlier today, as a matter of fact, starting just down the street from where they're about to open the Tokyo motor show. Iijima, leader of the Nissan Intelligent Driving project, was the one who occupied the driver's seat, but on a 20-minute drive neither of us needed to touch the wheel. Or the brakes or accelerator.

The company will offer Intelligent Driving in a reduced form in Japan from next year and in Europe in 2017. In essence, you'll get help in traffic jams with distance control and automatic braking, and with lane keeping and speed control on motorways. But true hands-off operation will have to wait a little longer, even though it's very much technically feasible, as Nissan was keen to demonstrate. It is part of a move towards a 'Zero Emissions, Zero Fatalities' vision the company holds.

A walk around our Leaf soon showed some key differences from a standard car. Its open boot revealed a luggage space stuffed with electronics, which we were reassuringly told could eventually be housed in a small black box. On the roof were two camera-scanners pointing to each side of the car, with three more pointing forward through the upper windscreen,and one rearward - all of it part of an eight-way, 360deg camera system.