My Executive


    Aug 29, 2013

    By 2020, your Nissan car may drive itself

    NISSAN Motor, which grabbed a global lead in electric-car sales with its Leaf hatchback, wants to do the same thing with self-driving vehicle technology and plans to offer such models by 2020.

    "We will be able to introduce multiple, affordable, fully autonomous vehicles to the market by 2020," said Mr Andy Palmer, Nissan's executive vice-president.

    Such systems mean "frustrating and unproductive commutes could become a thing of the past", he said.

    Nissan wants to be a leader in the move to make cars safer by adding electronic systems capable of preventing accidents and injuries. The systems can reduce traffic jams by rerouting vehicles, which helps curb emissions of carbon dioxide.

    The firm showed off self-driving Leaf models at a former United States military base in Irvine on Tuesday, with the robotic cars ferrying passengers in simulated urban-driving conditions.

    Technology underpinning autonomous cars, including adaptive cruise control, electronic steering and throttle controls, is already available, and added sensors and road-monitoring capabilities are being refined, Mr Palmer said.

    Nissan is developing its system in-house, though it is willing to work with firms including Google, which has been promoting driverless car systems in recent years.

    A difference in approach between Nissan and Google is that Nissan's system does not need to be linked to an Internet-based data system, said Mr Mitsuhiko Yamashita, the company's executive vice-president for research and development.

    "We don't count on infrastructure so much. All the technology is in the cars," he said. "We are trying to make crash-free, fatality-free vehicles."