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Nissan reveals timetable for autonomous drive

New technologies will lead to autonomous drive, but not self-driving cars, by 2020

Published: July 18, 2014, 4:45 AM

Nissan Leaf Autonomous Drive

Nissan's president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, today revealed the company's plans to launch new vehicle automation technologies aimed at accelerating consumer adoption of autonomous drive systems, which Nissan plans to make commercially viable by 2020.

But Ghosn, speaking to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, clarified statements made in August 2013 about just what autonomous drive systems mean. "I want to clarify that there is a big difference between autonomous drive technology championed by Nissan, and self-driving cars," he said.

"Self-driving cars remain a long way from commercial reality," he added.

Nissan's vision of autonomous drive involves relieving drivers of everyday tasks, particularly in congested or long-distance situations. The driver remains at the wheel and in control, but the car itself is capable of doing more things automatically.

As stepping stones to that goal, Nissan plans to introduce several new technologies over the next four years, including automatic parking, traffic jam pilot, automatic lane change and an intersection navigator.

"This technological momentum, in which cars will, step-by-step, offer more and more capability to assume journey-management from drivers, is a sign of things to come," Ghosn said.

But as for fully autonomous cars: "They are suitable only for tightly controlled road environments, at slow speeds, and face a regulatory minefield," he said.