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Nissan Aims to Launch Self-Driving Vehicles by 2020

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Nissan Aims to Launch Self-Driving Vehicles by 2020 [ READ IN JAPANESE ]
Asia Pacific Plant Management Magazine DECEMBER – jANUARY 2016 Issue

The year 2020 is a special year for Japan, as the Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo. Major Japanese automakers target launching self-driving vehicles in time with this event in order to demonstrate their technology to the world. Nissan Motor is one such company aiming to launch self-driving vehicles by the time of 2020 Summer Olympics.

 

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In 2013, Nissan Motor announced its plan to launch self driving vehicles in the market by the end of 2020. In May of this year, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s CEO, confirmed that the company is on track to achieve its original plan. By 2016, the company aims to employ adaptive cruise control and lane guidance systems in its vehicles in order to steer and brake on motorways automatically. By 2018, Nissan’s vehicles are expected to employ the ability to shift lanes and avoid obstructions and other hazards on motorways Automatically. By 2020, Nissan vehicles are expected to be able to guide themselves in most situations, including highly complicated situations such as congested city streets.

As a part of the Nissan’s effort to develop self-driving vehicles, Nissan North America and Nasa’s Ames Research Center signed a Reimbursable Umbrella Space Act Agreement (a five-year partnership for the research and development of self-driving vehicles) and the first annex to that agreement in January 2015. This agreement enables partnerships in technological development in every aspect including self-driving system and human-machine interface, network allowed applications, software analysis/verification, and sophisticated hard and
software that are used both in road traffic environment and on space. The first annex to the agreement introduces cooperative research and development of integrated prototypes, concepts and algorithms for self-driving vehicles.

Ames will support reimbursed design, development, testing and assessment of Nissan’s self-driving vehicles, including limited use of Ames’ campus for vehicle testing. According to Nasa, these tests will develop towards a proof-of-concept remote operation of self-driving vehicles
to transport humans, payloads, goods or materials, whichNasa parallels to the way it remotely operates planetary rovers from a mission control center. Ghosn is confident that the five-year partnership with Nasa will accelerate the company’s development of reliable, secure and safe self-driving technologies.

However, there are also challenges ahead for the market launch of self-driving vehicles by automakers, including Nissan. Automakers acknowledge that obtaining the approval from the government in each country in the world is a big challenge in making self-driving vehicles available to consumers. Supporters of self-driving vehicles say they could help minimize the number of vehicle accidents on the roads as the potential for human error is removed. Yet, various legal issues concerning the use of self-driving vehicles still remain, such as who would be responsible in the time of motor vehicle accidents and how governments would address self-driving systems.

Governments in some countries are gradually taking actions in order to set standards, laws and regulations concerning self-driving vehicles. For example, in Japan, the government has established a panel to consider the legal issues surrounding self-driving vehicles. Under current laws, they are not allowed to run on public roads.

In short, Nissan, through a research and development partnership with Nasa, aims to launch self-driving vehicles by 2020. However, various legal issues still remain regarding the market launch of self-driving vehicles. In order for the market introduction of self-driving vehicles to
become a reality, the global automotive industry must make sure that world governments feel comfortable about self-driving vehicles and lead through their positive action.

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