Nissan plans to offer affordable self-driving cars by 2020

It plans to demonstrate its autonomous tech later this year

Nissan announced today that it expects to begin selling multiple models of self-driving cars by 2020.

Self-driving cars, also known as autonomous drive vehicles, use cameras and sensors to detect roadway lanes and objects around them in order to guide themselves without human intervention.

Among others, GM plans to introduce a semi-automated Cadillac driving system in 2015. Google was among the first tech companies to announce plans to produce a self-driving car for "ordinary people" in less than five years.

Nissan said it's already building an autonomous drive proving ground in Japan. Its goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations.

Nissan is currently working with top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford and The University of Tokyo, to develop its self-drive technology.

"Nissan's autonomous driving will be achieved at realistic prices for consumers. The goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations," Nissan said in a statement.

According to one new report by Navigant Research, by 2035, more than 95 million self-driving cars will be sold worldwide every year. By that year, autonomous cars will represent 75% of all light-duty vehicle sales, according to Navigant.

"In 2007 I pledged that - by 2010 - Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle. Today, the Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric vehicle in history," said CEO Carlos Ghosn. "Now, 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."

The Nissan LEAF
Nissan plans to demonstrate autonomous driving technologies later this year using an all-electric LEAF.

Nissan said it plans to demonstrate its autonomous drive technology for the first time at Nissan 360, an invitation-only test drive event being held later this year at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station as well as on the streets of Orange County, Calif.

Among the technologies the company plans to demo are laser scanners, "Around View Monitor" cameras, and advanced artificial intelligence and actuators. The technologies have been installed in Nissan LEAFs to enable them to negotiate what Nissan called "real-world driving scenarios."

Nissan's autonomous driving technology is an extension of its Safety Shield, which monitors a 360-degree view around a vehicle for risks, offers warnings to the driver and takes action, if necessary.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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