Johannesburg - Nissan Motor has pledged to launch a revolutionary commercially viable and energy efficient autonomous drive vehicle by the year 2020 which, among other things, will help prevent accidents.
Andy Palmer, the executive vice-president of the Japanese company, said this week that the goal was to make this technology available across Nissan’s model range within two vehicle generations.
Palmer said Nissan would use the same approach as it used with its zero emission vehicle to make this technology affordable in vehicles it sold in emerging markets.
He said the plan to roll out autonomous drive technology across Nissan’s range within two vehicle generations would give it the scale and cost benefits to democratise the vehicles.
Nissan showcased its autonomous drive technology at the 2013 Nissan 360 event in Irvine, California in the US.
Palmer said autonomous drive vehicles were the “next frontier” for transportation, adding that they would have significant potential to conserve energy, reduce congestion, enhance traffic management and allow motorists to stay connected. They would also help to reduce accidents, enhance vehicle safety and achieve “the ultimate aim of zero fatalities”.
He said the autonomous drive vehicle would use cameras, sensors, global positioning systems and machine technology, including safety shield features already offered in many of its models. This would allow a vehicle to manoeuvre with reduced human intervention or without any human intervention, he said.
“These cars can measure distances and interpret images, including traffic and speed limit signs, pedestrians and other obstacles and act accordingly. And they can optimise energy consumption by accelerating and braking smoothly, remaining within the speed limit and never taking a wrong turn.
“Our autonomous driving system allows the car to monitor, assess and react to its surroundings without needing external data,” he said.
Palmer said the regulatory framework for autonomous driving vehicles was not yet in place, but Nissan would move forward aggressively with development efforts. “We are paving the way towards a revolution in vehicle safety, mobility, productivity and energy efficiency.”
Palmer added that the vehicle would also present potential economic savings and other benefits to society.
He said if autonomous driving technology was allowed by the regulators and adopted by consumers, frustrating and unproductive commutes could become a thing of the past. In addition emissions could be cut by as much as 300 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Palmer expressed confidence that the automotive industry would take an evolutionary leap forward into a safer, more efficient and more universally accessible future.
He said Nissan was on a mission to redefine how motorists interacted with their vehicles.
Nissan also reported that it was on track to become the leading manufacturer of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) by the end of its 2016 financial year. The company delivered 1.14 million LCV units in 2012, the first time its LCV sales had exceeded 1 million units, which placed it a year ahead of its target for such sales in the Power 88 mid-term plan.
The plan targets 8 percent global market share with a profit margin of 8 percent or more by the end of its 2016 year. - Business Report
* Roy Cokayne travelled to the US as a guest of Nissan.