NISSAN AUTONOMOUS DRIVE
Speaking with press in California this week, Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said the carmaker has launched an initiative in Japan with the goal of unveiling a "commercially viable" autonomous car in 2020.
To back up his claim, Ghosn pointed to a pledge made in 2007 to have a mass-market electric vehicle on the road by 2010. Retail deliveries of Nissan's LEAF EV in the US began in December of that year.
"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," Ghosn said.
Nissan says its new 'Autonomous Drive' program is already underway, with teams working in-house and in partnership with universities that the University of Tokyo, MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Carnegie Mellon.
In its current phase of development, Autonomous Drive uses Nissan's Around-View Monitoring system and laser scanners to monitor the surrounding environment.
Artificial intelligence systems are also on-board to help navigate and operate the vehicle in a changing environment.
As part of the program, Nissan is also building a dedicated test facility in Japan where its self-driving cars will be unleashed in a simulated real-world environment without risk to the public.
Apart from establishing an early foothold in the next evolution of the automotive industry, Nissan says it hopes to help to reduce the millions of crashes around the world each year that are due to human error.
In the US alone, there are more than six million crashes each year, and statistics show that a full 93 percent of those are due to human error; typically inattentive driving.
In Australia, more than 1500 people are killed on the road each year, and more than 30,000 are seriously injured.
The carmaker hopes to make its Autonomous Drive system available across its full range within two car generations after 2020.