Nissan breaks down its plans for self-driving vehicles
For the last few years, Nissan has asserted that it will release a self-driving vehicle to the automotive market by 2020, which is a tad ambitious to say the least. However, now the company is scaling back its plans for autonomous vehicle technology and is shooting for a much more realistic goal. Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan, has laid out an extensive roadmap which details the Japanese automaker’s plans over the next six years.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan this week, Ghosn broke down exactly what Nissan plans to roll out in the next six years under the Autonomous Drive brand. Unsurprisingly, rather than designing a Google-like autonomous pod panacea, Nissan is introducing a series of automobiles over the next few years that implement elements of autonomous vehicle technology. These cars will be semi-autonomous, more like an evolution than a revolution.
“I want to clarify that there is a big difference between Autonomous Drive technology championed by Nissan, and self-driving cars,” Ghosn said at the event. “Autonomous Drive is about relieving motorists of everyday tasks, particularly in congested or long-distance situations. The driver remains in control, at the wheel, of a car that is capable of doing more things automatically.”
“Self-driving cars remain a long way from commercial reality,” Ghosn said at a special event at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on Tuesday. “They are suitable only for tightly controlled road environments, at slow speeds, and face a regulatory minefield. That is why Nissan is focused on autonomous-drive technologies that we know will work, and can be introduced over the next four to five years.”
These statements are in stark contrast to the Ghosn of 2013 who had said at the 2013 CEATEC conference that 2020 would be the “absolute deadline” for Nissan to introduce a self-driving car to market. Instead of a fully self-driving car, Ghosn says Nissan’s Autonomous Drive technology roadmap will focus on introducing ever-increasing autonomous driving capabilities to its future vehicles on an ongoing basis. The first of these will be two distinct technologies which Ghosn says will enter the market in 2016, and will be upgraded in 2018.
This will be followed in 2018 by a technology enabling Nissan cars to autonomously switch lanes and avoid obstacles. Focusing on accident avoidance rather than total autonomy, the system sounds very similar to accident avoidance technologies being developed by other automakers like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
As Elon Musk puts it, the future is about “autopilot” features more than fully autonomous driving. And with humans still behind the wheel, we think that’s a far more achievable goal for automakers and legislators to agree on. Read more about this story here.