Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan, is not backing down on his company’s promise to introduce commercially available autonomous vehicles by 2020. In an announcement to Japanese media yesterday in Yokohama, Ghosn detailed Nissan’s plan to introduce advanced driver assistance technologies over the next four years, including traffic-jam pilot and fully autonomous parking features by the end of 2016.
Progressively integrating these autonomous systems into Nissan cars will “demonstrate to consumers the viability and value” of self-driving features to customers over time. By the time 2020 rolls around and Nissan is ready with fully autonomous cars, it might be easier for the market to adjust to them with a bit of groundwork already laid down.
Both of the new Nissan technologies coming our way by the end of 2016, automatic traffic-jam and parking assist, still require drivers to be present and at the wheel. We’ve seen Audi and Volvo demonstrate traffic-jam assistance technology in the past — the idea is essentially a mixture of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist systems, which allow vehicles congested in high-density highway traffic to travel safely at speeds up to 30-40-mph without driver input. Ghosn says he intends to make fully autonomous parking, meanwhile, “available across a wide range of vehicles.”
By 2018, Ghosn said Nissan intends to follow these technologies with “multiple-lane controls” which would allow cars to safely assess hazards and shift lanes automatically during highway driving. By 2020, the self-imposed deadline for fully autonomous vehicles, Ghosn wants to introduce “intersection-autonomy” that would allow vehicles to navigate city intersections without driver input.
A key part of Ghosn’s message was the importance of lessening emissions and city congestion in the context of “the rise of global mega-cities.” The future of autonomous travel appears to be just within reach, and Nissan is making a serious push to be on the cutting edge.