Seeking to steer drivers toward being ready to accept self-driving cars, Nissan will introduce two new technologies in the near future that will assume vehicle control at low speeds.
“By the end of 2016, Nissan will make available the next two technologies under its autonomous drive strategy,” Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said yesterday during a speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. “We are bringing to market a traffic-jam pilot, a technology enabling cars to drive autonomously – and safely – on congested highways. In the same timeframe, we will make fully-automated parking systems available across a wide range of vehicles.”
Driverless car technologies are being developed by companies including Google Inc., Audi, Ford and Nissan among others, but progress is slow. In the U.S., individual states need to settle on regulations for autonomous vehicle technology. California, Nevada, Florida and Michigan re currently the only states that allow driverless cars on public roads.
Most recently, California announced a new set of rules for autonomous vehicles to give automakers developing the technology a more specific list of guidelines.
Nissan will only be getting started when it rolls out the low-seed highway and parking automation systems in 2016, Ghosn said.
“This will be followed in 2018 by the introduction of multiple-lane controls, allowing cars to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. And before the end of the decade, we will introduce intersection-autonomy, enabling vehicles to negotiate city cross-roads without driver intervention.”
Nissan’s official goal is to make autonomous vehicles available by 2020, but realizing the target will mean more than persuading lawmakers that the technology is merited. The Japanese brand and others like it will need to sell customers on the idea of buying a car that can steer, accelerate and stop without driver input and that part might be as big a challenge as any other.
“In pursuit of those goals, Nissan must seize the growth opportunities created by major socio-economic trends affecting the world’s car industry,” added Mr. Ghosn.
Part of that battle might start to fight itself as baby boomers transition deeper into senior citizenship while maintaining a desire for independence. Self-driving cars could play a role in making that possible. The first baby boomer reached age 65 in January, 2011.
Ghosn also said the advent of megacities – cities with populations above 10 million – will drive demand along with an increasing desire among drivers for increased in-car connectivity.
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