Nissan pledges Autonomous Drive tech will be ready by 2020 and not just for rich people

nissan pledges autonomous drive technology will be ready by 2020 test leaf

Nissan says a future where cars drive themselves is due to arrive by the end of the decade, collectively boosting the hopes and dreams of science fiction fans everywhere.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made the announcement at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Irvine, California, stating that the Japanese automaker is already hard at work constructing a dedicated proving ground in Japan for autonomous vehicle testing, which is slated for completion by the end of 2014.

The company announced that it plans to develop multiple, commercially-viable autonomous vehicles and brand the technology under the company’s Autonomous Drive name by 2020.

“Nissan Motor Company’s willingness to question conventional thinking and to drive progress – is what sets us apart,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn in a press release. “In 2007 I pledged that – by 2010 – Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle. Today, the Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric vehicle in history. Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it.”

Research projects with some of the world’s top universities including MIT, Stanford, Oxford, among others have been underway for a number of years, with Nissan even going so far as to outfit its popular all-electric Leaf with a number of autonomous technologies. Laser scanners, Around View Monitor cameras, as well as advanced artificial intelligence and actuators, have been installed in Nissan LEAFs in an effort to test out complex real-world driving scenarios.

Nissan-Autonomous-Drive-test-LEAF-rear-view

While convenience and brand profile surely play a large role in Nissan’s push for autonomous vehicle technology, the company’s primary motivation is said to be safety. According to figures given by Nissan, six million crashes in the U.S. per year cost $160 billion and rank as the top cause of death for four- to 34-year olds, with 93 percent of accidents in the US due to human error.

Autonomous Drive is an extension of Nissan’s Safety Shield technology, which if you’re unfamiliar with is a suite of semi-autonomous safety options such as automated brake assist and a 360-degree monitoring system already available in a number of Infiniti models like the QX56 and the JX35.

Using Safety Shield as a platform to jump from, Nissan’s aim for vehicles outfitted with Autonomous Drive is to perform a myriad of tasks without any sort of driver input. Ostensibly, this means a car that could drive autonomously on a highway, sticking to or changing lanes and avoiding collisions. Nissan also plans on integrating its vehicles with a standard in-car navigation system so the car knows where and when to make turns in order to reach its programmed destination.

Ambitious and optimistic doesn’t even begin to sum up Nissan’s vehicle autonomy strategy, but what is perhaps most remarkable is the company’s claim that the technology will available at “realistic prices for consumers.” What exactly Nissan’s take on “realistic prices” is remains to be seen. But if it can successfully introduce and execute autonomous vehicle technology on a mass market scale while keeping costs affordable for consumers across a wide spectrum, then Nissan will easily leapfrog its competition as the most technologically advanced automaker out there.

And as great as Nissan LEAFs are, being driven around in one is infinitely better than driving one yourself. Here’s to 2020, Nissan. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and watch for updates.

Watch the announcement from Nissan:

Emerging Tech

Leafy greens are grown by machines at new, automated Silicon Valley farm

Farming hasn't changed too much for hundreds of years. Now a new startup called Iron Ox has opened its first automated hydroponics farm, producing a variety of leafy greens tended by machines.
Cars

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sedan will cost less than a Panamera

Porsche's Mission E concept won't change much as it transitions to a production model named Taycan that's scheduled to arrive in 2019. That means the sedan will keep the sleek design and its 800-volt charging system.
Product Review

Audi's new A8 is so sophisticated and serene, it practically deletes potholes

The 2019 Audi A8’s outline looks promising: Level 3 autonomous driving capability, haptic-feedback infotainment screens, rear-wheel steering, Matrix LED headlights and OLED taillights, plus a predictive suspension.
Cars

'4WD' or 'AWD'? Which setup is right for you?

Although four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) are related, they are actually quite different in how they operate. Here, we talk about the fundamental differences between the two systems, and what it means for you as a driver.
Cars

At 503 mph, Turbinator II is the world’s fastest wheel-driven vehicle

The Turbinator II is a four-wheel drive streamliner powered by a 5,000-horsepower helicopter engine, and it just achieved 503.332 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. That's an unofficial record for a wheel-driven car.
Cars

Lyft has a new fixed-price subscription plan for frequent passengers

Lyft wants you to save money by using rideshare services instead of owning a car. The new Lyft All-Access Plan monthly rideshare trip subscription includes 30 rides a month with a small discount for additional trips.
Cars

Could the next Mazda3 boast a fuel-saving breakthrough in engine tech?

Mazda released a teaser video that likely previews the next Mazda3. Expected to make its global debut at the L.A. auto show, the next 3 will wear a more curvaceous design and offer one of the most advanced engines in the automotive…
Cars

Workhorse takes on diesel with lighter, cheaper NGEN-1000 electric delivery van

Ohio-based Workhorse Group claims its new NGEN-1000 electric delivery van costs the same as a conventional diesel van and can haul a similar amount of cargo. A lower curb weight makes this possible.
Cars

Forget transponders with Peasy’s nationwide pay-as-you-go toll service

Verra Mobility launched Peasy, a consumer highway and bridge toll payment service. Designed to be less hassle than managing traditional transponder or toll tag accounts, Peasy pays tolls as they are levied across most of the U.S.
Cars

Just 10 people will get to put this limited-edition Audi R8 in their garages

The 2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Competition makes use of Audi's motor sports experience to turn up the performance dial. Decreased weight and increased aerodynamic downforce make this R8 a track monster.
Cars

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.
Cars

Tesla keeps promise with more affordable Model 3 with midrange battery pack

Tesla is keeping its promise of making the Model 3 gradually more affordable. The company released a new variant of the car with a mid-range, 260-mile battery option that's priced under the $50,000 mark.
Cars

The snake escapes: Ford’s 700-hp Mustang GT500 slithers online ahead of schedule

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will return in 2019 with over 700 horsepower, Ford confirmed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. The GT500 will be the most powerful Ford production car ever.
Cars

Volvo plans to face the future without sacrificing its identity

Volvo is embarking on an ambitious push to fill its lineup with electric and hybrid cars, as well as an infotainment partnership with Google. Volvo Americas CEO Anders Gustafsson explains how the Swedish automaker plans to pull that off.