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Nissan reveals driverless car plans

Driving force: Nissan’s Autonomous Drive system is being devolved in collaboration with a number of international universities.

Autonomous Drive tech to be rolled out in Nissan models from 2020

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Nissan logo28 Aug 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

FUTURE Nissan models will be able to drive themselves, with Nissan confirming it is developing autonomous driving technology to be ready by 2020.

The Japanese car-maker said it would have “multiple, commercially viable” vehicles with its ‘Autonomous Drive’ system ready for the market by 2020.

Nissan confirmed in a statement that it has been working on the Autonomous Drive technology for years, in collaboration with a number of the world’s top universities.

The company’s engineers have been working with researchers from a total of 23 institutions, including Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkley and the University of Tokyo.

Nissan will test the technology on a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground that is currently being built in Japan, featuring real elements of a townscape with bricks and mortar, rather than wooden or plastic mock-ups.

The company said this is the best possible way to push the limits of the technology safely, before testing the vehicle on public roads.

The Autonomous Drive system will be achieved at “realistic prices for consumers,” according to Nissan, and the goal is to roll the technology out across its entire model range within “two vehicle generations,” meaning anywhere between 10 and 15 years.

Nissan’s global CEO Carlos Ghosn confirmed the company’s ambitious target for roll-out of the technology at its Nissan 360 event in Southern California this week.

“Nissan Motor Company's willingness to question conventional thinking and to drive progress – is what sets us apart,” he said. “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.”

Nissan is using a Leaf EV as its current Autonomous Drive test vehicle with the system using laser scanners, ‘Around View Monitor’ cameras, artificial intelligence and actuators to help the vehicle maneuver through a variety of real-world scenarios.

The self-driving technology is an extension of its ‘Safety Shield’ system which can monitor a 360-degree view of the car for potential risks and alert the driver if required. Nissan said it is “based on the philosophy that everything required should be on board the vehicle, rather than relying on detailed external data.”

This would allow the car to drive autonomously and without a map and still avoid collisions when driving on a highway, but it can also be integrated with a sat-nav system so the vehicle knows where and when to turn.

Nissan said the introduction of Autonomous Drive technology means it would need to adapt the design and development of new cars, with the collision-avoidance technology placing more pressure on the vehicle’s chassis and traction control.

With 93 per cent of road accidents in the US caused by human error and often due to distraction or inattention, Nissan believes Autonomous Drive is the right technology to appropriately respond to these situations.

It also said that the tech could encourage better productivity, with Autonomous Drive allowing drivers to use the time in their car more effectively.

Nissan isn’t the first major company to produce autonomous driving technology, with tech giant Google currently in the process of developing a driverless car.

In 2011, German car-maker BMW confirmed that it had built a self-driving 5 Series which could brake, accelerate and pass vehicles on its own at speeds of up to 130km/h.

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