Nissan says it wants to prove experts wrong and has announced that it will offer autonomous driving in multiple vehicles by 2020, with the goal being to expand self-driving technology across the model range within two vehicle generations.
The Japanese carmaker has already started building a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground in its home country, which will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2014. The test track will feature real townscapes – masonry not mock-ups – and will be used “to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads to ensure the technology is safe.”
The automaker vows to offer the technology at realistic prices for consumers. An extension of its Safety Shield, which monitors a 360-degree view around a vehicle for risks, offers warnings to the driver and takes action if necessary, Nissan’s self-driving technology is based on the philosophy that everything required should be on board the vehicle, rather than relying on detailed external data.
Nissan’s autonomous cars will be able to drive on their own on a highway – with everything that implies – without a map. The technology will also be integrated with a standard in-car navigation system so the vehicle knows which turns to take to reach its destination.
The carmaker argues that 93 percent of accidents in the U.S. are due to human error – mostly due to inattention – and that the country’s six million crashes a year cost it $160 billion (€119.5 billion). Traffic accidents are also the top reason of death for 4- to 34-year olds. Knowing all this, would you prefer not driving your car and putting it in autonomous mode or would you rather be the one turning the wheel?
By Dan Mihalascu