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Nissan Autonomous Prototype Begins Testing on Public Roads

Moving toward the goal of fully autonomous driving by 2020.

Just a few days after Nissan showed its autonomous IDS concept at the 2015 Tokyo auto show, the company is putting its money where its mouth is by testing a self-driving prototype vehicle on public roads.

The Nissan Leaf-based, all-electric prototype is equipped with the latest version of Nissan's autonomous driving technology, called "Nissan Intelligent Driving," which incorporates all sorts of radars, lasers, and cameras to read the road and the environment surrounding the car. Some new features that Nissan is developing include a 360-degree camera system that helps the car route itself through intersections and curved roads, and a small laser scanner that can determine the distance between the car and its surroundings more precisely. The prototype also has a special interface that prominently displays the driving path and the car's activities when it's running in autonomous mode.

Nissan plans to roll out this autonomous technology in multiple stages. The first system to launch in 2016 in Japan will be Piloted Driving 1.0, which enables autonomous driving while driving on the highway in heavy traffic conditions. Then, the next stage is set to launch in 2018 and affords autonomous lane changes on the highway. Finally, in 2020, Nissan hopes to roll out an even more advanced system to allow for fully autonomous driving in the city.

Stay tuned for more news on Nissan's development of self-driving technology as we learn more about the company's future plans.