Blog: Dave LeggettNissan: autonomous car by 2020...

Dave Leggett | 28 August 2013

The autonomous car or driverless vehicle is already here, isn't it? Well, yes and no. The Google Car is one example. Other manufacturers have produced similar concepts, packed with very clever radar, cameras and algorithms that can, in combination, work very effectively (and machines don't get tired; accidents ought to be fewer). So, yes, technically, it can be done.

But there are still plenty of questions to be answered ahead of their real deployment. The legal questions are obvious: who's driving and who's responsible? And then there's the question of what the consumer really wants. A high-tech featureless pod that gets you from A to B? Effectively, that's a taxi without a driver. Or a brand experience that still allows greater driver engagement?

Advanced driver assistance systems can help the driver to enjoy the driving experience more, let the technology actively bolster safety, take care of things that the driver doesn't want to worry about (like a slippery road surface). A line is crossed when the technologies can actually drive the car fully. While most of us would agree that driving a car - any car - is frequently one of those small pleasures in life, there are also times when it would undeniably be nice to switch to the automotive equivalent of autopilot and read a newspaper or take a nap (that may be a big issue eventually, allowing - or not - the scenario of the driver being asleep).

Nissan has suggested that it is aiming for autonomous drive in some of its vehicles by 2020. It sounds like an aggressive target and we'll be following progress closely. Here's an interesting video that looks at work going on with the 'swarm/shoal' aspect by which these vehicles could be helping each other. 

 

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