Nissan’s first piloted drive prototype is hitting the road. The vehicle, based on the Nissan LEAF, made it’s public debut Thursday in where else, but Japan. The prototype will be used to develop autonomous technologies as the company moves forward with plans to roll out autonomous driving capability by 2020.
Nissan will roll out its “Nissan Intelligent Driving” technology in stages. And here’s the company’s plan. For Stage One, Nissan will offer “Piloted Drive 1.0” by the end of 2016 in Japan. Piloted Drive 1.0 allows for autonomous driving under heavy highway traffic conditions. By 2018, the company hopes to implement a multiple lane piloted drive that can conduct lane changes on highways. And by 2020, a new technology will be introduced that allows vehicles to successfully manage city/urban roads- including intersections – autonomously.
“We at Nissan are setting clear goals and preparing for the implementation of piloted drive,” said senior vice president of Nissan, Takao Asami. “The prototype that we’re introducing here today is proof of how close we are towards the realization of this goal. Nissan aspires for a safe and trouble-free motoring future, and we plan on leading the industry in the implementation of piloted drive.”
The prototype vehicle will be tested in actual traffic conditions on both the highway and city/urban roads to get Nissan Intelligent Driving ready for mainstream public use. The Nissan LEAF-based vehicle is equipped with features such as a millimeter wave radar, laser scanners, cameras, high-speed computer chips, and a specialized HMI (Human Machine Interface), just to name a few.
Currently in its prototype stages, the high-spec laser scanner determines the distance between the vehicle and its surroundings through the use of precise three-dimensional measurement that enables the vehicle to navigate routes in tight spaces. The other new technology is an 8-way, 360-degree view camera system that allows for accurate routing decisions when driving through intersections and sharp curving roads.
All of this helps allow the vehicle to operate in an autonomous manner on both highway and city/urban roads except for setting destination points into the navigation system. Nissan says it’ll be testing its technologies in various markets in the near future.