The Japanese car-maker has announced its plans to introduce the first autonomous and widely affordable vehicle by 2020.
According to the announcement made today, Nissan wants to offer multiple autonomous cars, covering its whole product range within 10 to 12 years after the 2020 launch.
Having been working with the world’s top universities, the company is now building a dedicated test track in Japan, which is believed to be completed next year.
"Nissan Motor Company's willingness to question conventional thinking and to drive progress is what sets us apart," said CEO Carlos Ghosn. "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. Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it," he said.
Recently, Nissan has demonstrated first technologies created on the way towards the goal – laser scanners, around view monitoring cameras, artificial intelligence software and actuators.
A Nissan LEAF car has been fitted with these technologies at an event held in Southern California, showing its ability to handle real-world driving scenarios.
Monitoring a 360-degree view around the car, the technology provides the driver with timely warnings and can even take action if necessary.
The car is capable of driving autonomously on a highway, changing lanes and avoiding collisions. A GPS interface can be integrated into the system, enabling the vehicle to follow more sophisticated routes.
Nissan said the design and construction of the fully autonomous vehicle would require an innovative approach to the car’s components – including chassis and traction control – as the system would be capable of much faster reaction and more complex movements than a human driver.
The car-manufacturer believes the autonomous driving technology could help decrease the number of car accidents and fatalities taking place on the roads worldwide.
On average, every American driver spends about 48 minutes a day behind the wheel – a time that could be used more productively. Autonomous systems would also provide greater comfort and level of independence to people with disabilities.