Nissan recently announced that it plans on releasing multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020. The company has been working tirelessly with top universities in the world including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Tokyo in order to bring about this vision.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, recently said: "Nissan Motor Company's willingness to question conventional thinking and to drive progress - is what sets us apart. 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 realise it.”
Work is currently underway in Japan to build a dedicated driving circuit which will be ready to test vehicles by the end of 2013. The team built a real townscape, featuring masonry not mock-ups, in order to test their vehicles beyond the limits that are possible on public roads, ensuring that their technological goals are approached in a safe manner.
The company has already demonstrated their capabilities at Nissan 360 in Southern California where stakeholders interacted with technologies developed by Nissan. Some of these will certainly find their way in future vehicles, particularly laser scanners, around view monitor cameras, as well as advanced artificial intelligence and actuators.
The autonomous driving technologies are an extension of the world famous Safety Shield which monitors 360-degree view around the vehicle, providing the driver with warnings of upcoming dangers. The technology is based on the “philosophy that everything required should be on board the vehicle, rather than relying on detailed external data. The technology being demonstrated at Nissan 360 means the car could drive autonomously on a highway - sticking to or changing lanes and avoiding collisions - without a map. It can also be integrated with a standard in-car navigation system so the vehicle knows which turns to take to reach its destination.”