Nissan’s smart-city idea has driverless cars and renewables

2 March 2016
By Jack Loughran
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Nissan's self-driving technology is used to automatically move cars into charging stations when they need to be charged up

Nissan's self-driving technology is used to automatically move cars into charging stations when they need to be charged up

Nissan has released a smart city concept incorporating environmentally friendly energy generation with driverless cars.

It uses vehicle-to-grid technology, battery storage, wireless charging, autonomous drive technology and over-the-air connectivity to demonstrate how energy distribution in future cities could be linked to autonomous vehicles.

A video demonstrating the technology shows cities powered by renewable sources, including solar and wind, with consumers storing any excess energy generated in the batteries of their electric cars.

The batteries can also be charged with wireless infrastructure built into roads, with intelligent drive technology used to move vehicles in and out of charging bays overnight depending on their energy needs, without the need for any interaction from the drivers.

Nissan’s concept would also allow the car owners to draw energy from the car’s battery to power their homes. It envisages a future where cars, houses, roads and the electricity grid are all in sync and connected to each other.

The car company is already making strides to achieve this goal. It recently announced it will construct the next generation of electric car batteries at its manufacturing hub in Sunderland, UK.

It is currently trialling a vehicle-to-grid system in Europe which, when coupled with advances in its batteries, will allow drivers to operate as individual ‘energy hubs’, able to store, use or return clean energy to the grid.

Nissan also demonstrated its first self-driving vehicle at the end of last year, although many of the first drivers noted the system’s cautious style when navigating the roads.

Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, said: “Technology holds many of the answers for the challenges we face in our cities today. However, the true power comes when those technologies are integrated with each other and the world around us.

“We’ve been at the forefront of zero emission technology since 2010, but our vision does not stop there – we believe that the future of transportation is reliant on both infrastructure and the environment. We’re looking for real, workable solutions that go beyond the product.”

Foster & Partners, the architectural firm most famous for constructing London’s City Hall and the revamped great hall in the British Museum, collaborated with Nissan on the project.

David Nelson, Foster & Partners co-head of design, said: “Integrating zero emission technologies into the built environment is vital in creating smarter, more sustainable cities. That commitment must extend far beyond the car – it must sit at the heart of everything we do.”

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