Nissan Motor Co. disclosed that it is planning to have a number of self-driving vehicles ready for retail sales in 2020, a signal that the Japanese carmaker is pushing ahead on this promising and innovative technology. Nissan has developing self-driving vehicles for years at its r&d centers in Japan and is now planning to take further its investment in the technology by providing a new proving ground dedicated to autonomous vehicles.
The carmaker recently opened an advanced technology center in Silicon Valley that is also working on autonomous vehicles. Nissan is not alone on threading this path to creation of self-driving vehicles, which are seen to enable drivers to take their hands and eyes off the road while relying on technology to guide their vehicles. Sale of such vehicles, however, could be derailed by traffic safety regulators in the United States, according its proponents.
Nissan, however, carefully worded its announcement to say that the vehicles will be ready in 2020, but not for rollout in its dealerships. This could be attributed to the fact that it is uncertain whether such vehicles could pass regulatory hurdles by that time.
Traffic safety regulators will have to agree on rules for self-driving cars before any carmaker could offer them for sale. Likewise, some issues still need to be resolved before autonomous vehicles could be approved by regulators. Issues include a driving emergency wherein the driver is temporarily incapacitated and can't re-take control of the vehicle.
"Nissan Motor Company's willingness to question conventional thinking and to drive progress – is what sets us apart," said CEO Carlos Ghosn. "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. 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." [source: Nissan]