LIVE FROM CES 2017, LAS VEGAS: Car giant Nissan, for the first time, put a timeframe on its plans to bring autonomous cars to market commercially, while unveiling a new system designed to enhance the technology.
Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO and largely credited with reviving the company, revealed a partnership with Japanese internet firm DeNa to begin trialling autonomous driving in Japan this year, before committing to rolling out the technology commercially in 2020 in areas of Tokyo.
The deal also includes trials and developments in ride hailing.
The company’s presentation focused heavily on its ambitions around autonomous driving, as well as its developments in connected cars and mobility solutions, drawing on its partnership with Microsoft to deliver voice assistance and Artificial Intelligence through Cortana to its vehicles.
At CES, the company unveiled Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM), a human machine learning system, developed in collaboration with Nasa, that helps autonomous cars navigate through obstacles, and other challenges that may arise in the real world.
If issues occur on the road for example, the car uses the system to feedback to a Nissan control centre, and an alternative route is found.
The company said something like SAM was unique to it, and it was also a necessity for autonomous driving to develop.
“Show me a system that does not have a human in the loop and I’ll show you a system that is useless,” declared Ogi Redzic, SVP, connected vehicles and mobility services.
Swipe at rivals
When it comes to electric vehicles, the company also appeared to take a dig at its rivals for being too slow on the uptake.
Electric cars are widely regarded as better for the environment.
“2016 was the tipping point for electric vehicles,” added Takao Asamai, Research & Development at Nissan. “Our rivals made a commitment to electric vehicles and it’s about time. We started our journey in 2010, and now they are trying to catch up. They have a long way to go.”