Nissan Announces Autonomous Vehicles by 2017
The future is upon us, and autonomous cars are well on the way to becoming a mainstream reality. Nissan is at the forefront of the trend, with research from teams at Stanford, Oxford, MIT, the University of Tokyo, and Carnegie Mellon powering their latest innovations. If you’re looking forward to the experience of playing passenger to your car’s automated driving system, your opportunity may come sooner than you think.
Autonomous Cars Tested on the Road
Nissan announced its autonomous drive at the 2013 Nissan 360 event in Irvine, California. Shortly after, one of Nissan’s vehicles took an automated drive at CEATED JAPAN 2013 where it won the top award for autonomous drive technology. Nissan has also put an autonomous drive car out on the road. A Nissan LEAF hit the Kasumigaseki and Sagami Expressway in Japan using Nissan’s autonomous drive technology with Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga along for the ride.
A Gradual Roll-Out
Nissan plans to release vehicles with self-driving technology gradually. As of January 2016, there were six Nissan autonomous test vehicles on the road, three of which were in the United States. The technology, pioneered in Japan, is still acclimating to the unique driving rules and conditions in the states, but the automaker is confident about the future of its autonomous vehicles.
By late 2016, Nissan plans to offer cars that will take control in stop-and-go traffic when the vehicle is sitting in a single lane. By 2018, the carmaker plans to release vehicles with multiple-lane highway support, so drivers can minimize the highway hassle in their commute. When 2020 rolls around, Nissan plans to have autonomous vehicles that can manage intersections and city driving.
The Ten Frontrunners for Autonomous Technology
Over the next 4 years, over 10 vehicles with autonomous driving features are slated for release as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. While other carmakers are pushing autonomous technology for their top end vehicles, Renault-Nissan is taking a more attainable approach. This will put autonomous technology in the hands of the everyday driver.
The cars selected for this honor will be released around the world in Japan, Europe, China, and the United States. Though the specific models are yet to be announced, Nissan has mentioned that they will select affordable mass-produced models.
How the Tech Works
Nissan’s autonomous vehicles aren’t designed to be completely autonomous just yet. While the driver will have less to worry about, these cars aren’t intended for completely disengaged passengers. Nissan’s autonomous features rely on an attentive driver sitting behind the wheel, ready to take over at a moment’s notice. Whether you’re jumping in to apply some added brake pressure, or taking over completely to navigate tricky conditions, Nissan stresses that the person in the driver’s seat will still act as the vehicle’s operator.
Rather than take over completely, this autonomous technology is designed to assist the driver and handle certain common and tedious tasks. The 2018 release of multiple-lane control will equip cars to change lanes, pass another car, or avoid an obstacle in the road. The intersection autonomy slated for 2020 will allow the car to operate at low speeds. Nissan’s autonomous vehicles will ultimately be able to execute highway merges, highway exits, and interchanges in the future.
The Future of Autonomous Vehicles
While some automakers are hyping completely autonomous vehicles in the near future, Nissan takes a more cautious approach to the technology. A Renault-Nissan executive pointed out that even when vehicles have the capability to be autonomous, the market as a whole isn’t prepared for the technology. Laws and regulations still require accessible steering wheels and brakes for drivers, and you have to keep your hands on the wheel to adhere to the rules of the road. However, completely autonomous technology is on the horizon for the carmaker and looks like it will happen within the next decade.
Autonomous driving may seem futuristic, but it’s closer than you might think. All the necessary innovations and technology are already in the hands of carmakers like Nissan. What remains is for the company to perfect the technology, complete its extensive testing, and put these cars in the hands of everyday consumers. If you’re interested in eliminating some of the hassle of driving, you should be able to use some of the earliest autonomous technology within the coming years.