The Japanese manufacturer, which has established itself as a technology leader through its global rollout of electric vehicles with partner Renault, says it will be ready with “multiple, commercially viable ‘Autonomous Drive’ vehicles by 2020”.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s goal is to make autonomous driving technology available across the model range within two vehicle generations (typically 12-15 years), and insists it will be achieved at “realistic prices for consumers”.
“In 2007 I pledged that by 2010 Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle. Today, the Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric vehicle in history,” Ghosn said.
“Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realise it.”
Nissan engineers have been carrying out extensive research and development work on the technology for years, collaborating with teams from leading international universities including Oxford, Stanford, MIT and the University of Tokyo.
The Japanese car maker is currently building a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground with real townscapes designed to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads to prove its safety. The facility is to be completed by March 2015.
Nissan says its Autonomous Drive technology will be an extension of its Safety Shield system, incorporating its already-available 360-degree view camera system and collision avoidance technologies with additional systems using laser scanners, actuators, advanced artificial intelligence, and navigation systems.
Six million crashes occur in the US every year, costing over US$160 billion and ranking as the top reason for death of four- to 34-year-olds. Nissan believes Autonomous Drive can contribute significantly to reducing these statistics.
Autonomous Drive also means less input from drivers; allowing motorists to use their time behind the wheel more productively, and potentially increasing independence and mobility for the aged and disabled.