Nissan chairman of the board and CEO Carlos Ghosn
Nissan chairman of the board and CEO Carlos Ghosn

On January 5, 2017 during his CES keynote Nissan chairman of the board and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced several advancements as part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered and integrated into wider society. Highlights included:

New Nissan LEAF

On stage at CES, Ghosn announced plans to launch a new Nissan LEAF, with ProPILOT technology, enabling autonomous drive functionality for single-lane highway driving.

The new LEAF is coming in the near future and represents the next chapter of Nissan Intelligent Power.

This new LEAF will build on the company’s leadership in electric vehicles, which includes more than 250,000 Nissan LEAFs sold worldwide since 2010. The new LEAF represents the next chapter of Nissan Intelligent Power.

Seamless Autonomous Mobility: The Ultimate Nissan Intelligent Integration

Advances in artificial intelligence are making vehicles smarter, more responsive, and better at making decisions in a variety of driving environments. But we are still not at a point where autonomous vehicles can know exactly how to handle unpredictable situations. This is one of the roadblocks to realizing a fully autonomous future for driving. The solution is Nissan’s Seamless Autonomous Mobility system or SAM.

SAM will ensure a seamless mobility system in which millions of autonomous cars can operate safely and smoothly. SAM can help cars to navigate unforeseen situations that occur on city streets, such as accidents, road construction, or other obstacles.

Here’s how it works: imagine an autonomous vehicle is moving through city streets and comes across an accident, with police using hand signals to direct traffic, perhaps across double yellow lines and against traffic lights. The vehicle cannot and should not, reliably judge what to do by itself.

Vehicle sensors (LIDAR, cameras, radars) can tell the car where obstacles are, the traffic light state, and even recognize some hand gestures, but human judgment is required to understand what other drivers and pedestrians are doing and decide on the appropriate course of action.

With SAM, the autonomous vehicle becomes smart enough to know when it should not attempt to negotiate the problem by itself, as in this instance. Instead, it brings itself to a safe stop and requests help from the command center.  The request is routed to the first available mobility manager – a person who uses vehicle images and sensor data (streamed over the wireless network) to assess the situation, decide on the correct action, and create a safe path around the obstruction.  The mobility manager does this by “painting” a virtual lane for the vehicle to drive itself through.  When the policemen wave the vehicle past, the manager releases the car to continue on by itself along the designated route.  Once clear of the area, the vehicle resumes fully autonomous operations, and the mobility manager is free to assist other vehicles calling for assistance.

As this is all happening, other autonomous vehicles in the area are also communicating with SAM. The system learns and shares the new information created by the Mobility Manager. Once the solution is found, it’s sent to the other vehicles.

SAM is not for just Nissan vehicles, but for all vehicles.

“Our goal is to change the transportation infrastructure,” said Maarten Sierhuis, former NASA scientist and director of the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley. “We want to reduce fatalities and ease congestion. We need a huge number of vehicles out there. What we are doing at Nissan is finding a way so that we can have this future transportation system not in 20 years or more, but now.”

What’s Ahead for Nissan Intelligent Driving: Driverless Testing for Commercial Services

Nissan’s strategy to make driverless vehicles a reality is based on four stages. Stage one is autonomous drive for single-lanes on the highway. This level of autonomous drive technology was introduced last August through the ProPILOT system on the Nissan Serena family minivan in Japan.

Nissan CEO test drive
Nissan CEO test drive

When activated, it helps to keep the car centered by reading lane markers, measuring the distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you, and providing steering assistance. Sixty percent of customers who have purchased this model, which is one of the leaders in the segment, have already chosen this option in Japan.

Stage two is autonomous drive on multilane highways. This functionality will allow the vehicle to merge and change lanes autonomously and it is expected to be available in 2018. Stage three is autonomous city driving, which Nissan expects to be available in 2020. The fourth and final stage is fully autonomous and driverless vehicles a reality.

Connected Cars: Innovations in Intelligent Driving & Integration

Mr. Ghosn announced today at CES that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is continuing its partnership on the development and deployment of advanced connected technologies, such as Microsoft Cortana, an in-vehicle virtual personal assistant. With features such as Cortana speech analytics, drivers can benefit from advanced in-vehicle voice recognition and intuitive human machine interface (HMI).

Cortana will allow the vehicle to adapt to personalized driver settings, even understanding different driver preferences in a shared vehicle, almost making it feel like your own.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will develop and launch new connected services and applications that make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks. It will also offer vehicle-centric services that can simplify and enhance engagement with the car through usage-based information, remote access, remote diagnostics and preventive maintenance.

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