LAS VEGAS -- Nissan is joining other auto makers in stepping up its self-driving car technology. But there's a catch: These autonomous cars still need humans to navigate, its CEO said. Company chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, delivering the company's first Consumer Electronics Show keynote address here Thursday, offered more insights to the Yokohama, Japan-headquartered company's strategy. "Many people don't want to give up driving completely," he said. "But what they want is to decide when to drive and when to let the car take over."
Nissan looks to be taking on Tesla in the race to self-driving cars, with the introduction of a new feature in its next-generation Leaf electric vehicle. The cars will feature a new technology called ProPILOT Assist that supports drivers by helping control acceleration, braking and steering. While Nissan has not said when the next-generation Leaf will be revealed or its cost, rumours suggest it could be as early as September, with shipping starting by the end of 2018. Nissan's next-generation Leaf will feature a new technology called ProPILOT Assist that supports drivers by helping control acceleration, braking and steering The ProPILOT Assist feature is designed to give drivers a helping hand as they drive in traffic. When the ProPILOT Assist button on the steering wheel is pressed, the car takes over the acceleration, braking and steering, keeping the car safely in its lane.
Just three years ago, autonomous cars seemed like a pipe dream relegated to a far-off decade in the future. But then, last week, Ford announced that in 2021 it's planning to release an autonomous car without a steering wheel, brake or throttle pedals, designed for ride-sharing. Just a few days later, Volvo and Uber made public their partnership to develop a driverless car. Now, it seems autonomous cars aren't just a fanciful future prospect but rather something tangible -- and a real part of mobility in the near future. The Ford and Volvo/Uber announcements, though, highlight the different approaches each company working on autonomous driving technology is taking. For example, some, like Audi, are introducing autonomous systems slowly into their products to indoctrinate their buyers to the tech. Others, like Ford, are jumping straight to driverless cars.
Nissan is one step closer to bringing its semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist feature to American roads. The automaker has shed more light on the US-optimized version of the assistant ahead of its launch in the new Leaf near the end of 2017. As Nissan stresses, the initial version is intended only to make life easier during single-lane highway driving. Think of it as a sort of Autopilot lite. It'll use a camera, radar and sensors to keep you in your lane, maintain speed and brake if the driver ahead slows down, but it won't change lanes, handle city streets or brake in an emergency.
Nissan has tested a prototype of its most advanced autonomous car on public roads in Tokyo with the final product due to be ready by 2020. The ProPILOT operates autonomously on urban roads and freeways using artificial intelligence from 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine millimetre-wave radars, six laser scanners and a high-definition map. Developers say this allows it to analyse complex scenarios in real time and navigate even the most challenging city conditions such as crossing busy intersections. The ProPILOT operates autonomously on urban roads and freeways using artificial intelligence from 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine millimetre-wave radars, six laser scanners and a high-definition map. Developers say this allows it to analyse complex scenarios in real time and navigate even the most challenging city conditions such as crossing busy intersections.