Nissan Aims for Autonomous Vehicles by 2020


  • Nissan Leaf Picture

    Nissan Leaf Picture

    Nissan is busy at work on autonomous vehicles. | August 28, 2013

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Just the Facts:
  • Nissan on Tuesday pledged that it would have multiple self-driving vehicles ready for retail sale by 2020.
  • The Japanese automaker said the cars will feature "realistic prices for consumers."
  • A Nissan program is underway in Japan to construct the first proving ground dedicated to autonomous vehicles.

IRVINE, California — Nissan on Tuesday pledged that it would have multiple self-driving vehicles ready for retail sale by 2020.

The Japanese automaker said the cars will feature "realistic prices for consumers." Nissan stopped short of spelling out pricing or providing details about the cars. It said the goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations.

In addition, a Nissan program is underway in Japan to construct the first proving ground dedicated to autonomous vehicles. The facility will be ready by the end of fiscal year 2014.

"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," said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan CEO, in a statement.

Nissan is not the only automaker tinkering with self-driving vehicles.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said earlier this year that his electric-car company has had discussions with Google about autonomous driving technology, but tweeted that self-driving Tesla cars are "still a few years from production."

BMW and automotive supplier Continental are in the midst of an effort to develop self-driving cars, too. BMW said earlier that the main goal is to have highly automated driving functions ready for implementation by 2020. A joint project between the two is scheduled to run from now until the end of 2014 with an eye on launching prototypes "capable of highly automated operation on motorways."

Toyota's ambitious plans for self-driving cars include vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

But federal safety regulators still have a lot of work to do before autonomous vehicles are commonplace on America's roads.

There are concerns about what happens in a driving emergency and whether an outsider could hack into an autonomous vehicle's computer system, potentially creating mayhem. Other questions arise over insurance policies and law enforcement.

Edmunds says: Nissan gets serious about autonomous-car technology, but significant hurdles must be overcome before any of these vehicles end up in showrooms.

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