Last year Nissan announced plans to launch multiple Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020. However the company now says that the vehicles won't be fully autonomous, but will instead be introducing the autonomous technology in a phased manner.
Autonomous Driving Systems aimed at accelerating consumer adoptionDuring a recent press conference, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said new technologies including automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems, to be introduced over the next four years, would demonstrate to consumers the viability and value of Autonomous Driving systems, which Nissan intends to make commercially viable by 2020.
The first system will be a "traffic-jam pilot" which will let vehicles drive themselves on gridlocked freeways. In the same timeframe, the company will also introduce a fully-automated parking system that will enable the car to park itself and will be available across a wide range of vehicles.
"This will be followed in 2018 by the introduction of multiple-lane controls, allowing cars to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. And before the end of the decade, we will introduce intersection-autonomy, enabling vehicles to negotiate city cross-roads without driver intervention," said Ghosn.
Ghosn went on to say that “four major trends are fuelling demand for autonomous drive functions. These are: the need to ease congestion in increasingly crowded mega-cities; growing demand for in-car communications by younger tech-savvy drivers; the need to make car operation easier and safer for the growing ranks of senior drivers; and increased purchasing and decision-making power of female consumers.”
“Unlike pilot-projects for completely self-driving vehicles, currently undergoing preliminary tests elsewhere in the industry, drivers remain in control and 'at the wheel' in Nissan models equipped with Autonomous Drive functions."
By next year, for example, the company says they will have "enhanced communications" functions loaded on 1.5 million vehicles, and the technologies include cloud-based systems to offer better access to social media, entertainment applications and voice recognition software.
"Nissan will be part of the transport solution in the growing number of megacities. We will continue to make our cars more connected. We plan to lead in delivering Autonomous Drive vehicles. And, in every part of the business, we are recognizing the unique needs of elderly drivers and the impact and influence of female customers."