Controlling the future

Nissan wants to bring partially autonomous vehicles to the roads by 2020, the OEM’s general manager for research explains the path towards the completely driverless car

The increasing number of advanced driver-assistance systems has improved safety on our roads considerably. Functions including automatic brake assist and lane change assist have meant that, even when drivers lose their concentration, accidents can be avoided, or at least the impact mitigated.

And the sensor suites that form the basis for the systems – cameras, radar and ultrasonics – open the door to far more complex and advanced technologies. Autonomous vehicles are no doubt discussed at every motor show and technology event you attend.

Nissan has announced its intentions for the technology, with plans to put partially autonomous vehicles on public roads by 2020. Its vehicles will be able to navigate traffic jams and drive on highways without the aid of the driver.

Developing these technologies is a challenge, and one that Kazuhiro Doi faces every day at work. Doi spreads himself between two roles: Renault-Nissan Alliance director and Nissan research division general manager. He navigates his way among the increasing number of firms working in this area and the developments they are making to grow the OEM’s own knowledge.

“We have a lot of suppliers, Bosch and Continental for example, but it’s clear that it is not enough to solve all the issues,” he says. “We need higher-speed cameras for example, with more accurate, higher resolutions. These new ideas are being created, especially in Silicon Valley, where there are lots of start-ups.” 

That’s one of the reasons why Nissan, like many others, has opened facilities in California, hiring directors from Nasa, and talking to local start-ups to find better technologies. Up to 1,000 firms a year are contacting the facility.

tags: May 2015 Nissan Electronics