Nissan, who successfully mass marketed zero-emission vehicles in 2010, is set to release new ground-breaking technology with its first line of autonomous vehicles by 2020. The self-driving technology is stated to be added to several different vehicle models as opposed to just one. It is Nissan’s hope that these vehicles will become ‘collision-free cars’ and therefore resulting in zero casualties once they hit the road. Nissan also aspires to make these autonomous vehicles affordable at a realistic price for its consumers, although it’s yet to be stated exactly what those ‘affordable’ prices will be.
An autonomous Nissan car will feature a 360-degree vehicle monitoring system with Nissan’s evolving Safety Shield, leaving the car monitored at all angles. The vehicles feature two of Nissan’s current released technology; Automatic lane centering and cruise control. Automatic freeway exiting, lane changes, stopping at red lights, and overtaking a slow or stopped vehicle will be new features on the autonomous vehicles. All of which will be implemented without driver involvement for these features to be activated. The all-around sensors will also warn the driver of any surrounding hazards shall the driver (or the car) need to react.
Autonomous vehicles can also monitor oncoming traffic while turning and overtaking, and side distance control; the latter works to avoid obstacles and steer away to avoid potential collisions. As such, the technology also merges the car away from blocked roads and safely merges the vehicle into another lane, even if there is oncoming traffic. In addition, these cars can also monitor against possible theft and can park themselves when prompted to do so. Just a few remarkable things on the already semi-long list of ‘tricks’ these vehicles can perform. And it only promises to continue to get better.
So far, these vehicles have successfully (and safely) driven around a parked car, and entered intersections during a lapse in traffic. The technology; which consists of lasers scanners, cameras, advanced artificial intelligence and actuators which further extends Nissan’s Safety Shield, helps implement real world scenarios so that the situations may be monitored and the car ‘taught’ properly how to react. The cars need to react in the same way that a human driver would since these vehicles will be placed on the road with other human drivers, who may or may not be driving an autonomous vehicle.
Although the technology of these autonomous cars have advanced, there’s still a lot that needs to be done to ensure these cars will be safe on the road when they come to market at a Nissan dealer near you in 2020. Advancements will include the ability to react to traffic lights and road signs, preventing the car from lane departure, and braking safely in traffic. The technology will also have to be advanced enough to differentiate between what is a hazard and what necessarily isn’t, to prevent any mishaps that could only potentially put the driver or other vehicles in danger. But, Nissan’s Motor Chief Executive is confident they can get the technology to where it needs to be by the end of the decade. By 2020, these cars should be able to drive on the highway without the need for external data or mapping, which is what will set Nissan’s driver-less cars apart from Google’s self-driving technology. The technology also won’t be limited to certain vehicles with a certain infrastructure.
Carlos Ghosn, the Nissan Motor Chief Executive, says they’re on track to realizing its autonomous technology and having it released by the end of the decade. He sees every Nissan model operating with autonomous technology within two generations of vehicles. The technology, which is currently being tested in Japan, will soon be tested on ‘proving grounds’ that’s set to be completed in 2014; those grounds are testing facilities that will contain real buildings and real architecture to really put the autonomous technology to the test.