Nissan IDS Concept Showcases The Future Of Autonomous Driving

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Check out Nissan’s vision of a driverless car unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Visions of cars that drive themselves without emitting a bit of pollution while entertaining passengers with online movies and social media are what’s taking center stage at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The motor show’s 44th edition, which runs from Oct 28 until Nov 8, features 160 exhibitors including global auto giants and parts suppliers from a dozen countries. Nissan said that it’s “well on track” with plans to “equip innovative autonomous drive technology on multiple vehicles” by 2020, a goal it had initially set for itself two years ago. Packing a 30kWh battery with enough (EPA-rated) power for a drive up to 107 miles, it’s the first (admittedly concept) car to show up with the carmaker’s Intelligent Driving System. It starts a week after Honda said it would put a commercialised self-driving car on the road by 2020, as automakers bet on vehicles that can drive and, in some case, park themselves. Notable parts of Nissan’s autonomous driving plans include special driving modes for traffic jams (where it’ll keep pace with the vehicle ahead of it while also keeping itself in the right lane), as well as restaurant recommendations based on previous trips.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said Nissan was on track to put the self-driving technology in multiple vehicles by 2020, and the company is aiming to put an experimental automated car on Japan’s highways as soon as next year. Humans will still be able to drive such driverless or autonomous cars, but the option to hand over complete control to the vehicle is what makes the new technology — which companies like Apple and Google are also working towards — revolutionary. “Some have compared a future with autonomous drive to living in a world of conveyer belts that simply ferry people from point A to B,” Nissan said. “But the Nissan IDS Concept promises a very different vision of tomorrow.” “Even when the driver selects Piloted Drive and turns over driving to the vehicle, the car’s performance — from accelerating to braking to cornering — imitates the driver’s own style and preferences,” it added.

Nissan Motor Co. showed a concept vehicle loaded with laser scanners, a 360 degree camera setup, a radar and computer chips so the car can “think” to deliver autonomous driving. The eye-popping vehicle conjures images of the Terminator films with some of a usually hidden underbelly – including fuel tank and hoses – exposed, giving an inside look at the car’s machinery. Behind the scenes, Japan and China are seemingly locked in a fierce battle over the future of electric-car power generation — specifically, whether they should be powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel-cells. The Japanese automaker called it IDS, which stands for “intelligent driving system.” Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, said it will offer some autonomous driving features by the end of next year in Japan. Nissan, a leader in electric vehicles, is showing a concept car with knobs and buttons replaced by tablet-style touch screens featuring controls and maps on a white instrument panel.

Nissan is made up of a richly diverse group of people, as reflected in the company’s leadership team and the numerous corporate outreach programs in which we participate in the community. Toyota and Honda are also exhibiting their latest fuel-cell offerings, seen as the holy grail of green cars because they emit nothing but water vapour from the tailpipe and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn explained that Nissan is aiming towards a zero emission, zero accident future, where autonomous driving helps reduce traffic accidents — of which 90 percent are due to driver error. The auto giant is hoping to sell tens of thousands of the eco-friendly vehicle over the next decade, as it looks to stop producing fossil-fuel based cars altogether by 2050.

Nissan officials said they were working hard to make the car smart enough to recognize the difference between a red traffic light and a tail light, learn how to turn on intersections where white lane indicators might be missing and anticipate from body language when a pedestrian might cross a street. Honda’s rival fuel-cell features a cruising range of more than 700 kilometres (430 miles), and generates electricity that could help supply power to a local community in an emergency situation, it said. But a limited driving range and lack of refuelling stations have hampered development of fuel-cell and all-electric cars, which environmentalists say could play a vital role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and slowing global warming.

Among the overseas automakers attending are BMW, Peugeot Citroen, Porsche, Jaguar and crisis-hit Volkswagen, which is embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in the history of the automobile sector. That’s why some automakers at the show are packing the technology into what looks more like a golf cart or scooter than a car, such as Honda Motor Co.’s cubicle-like Wander Stand and Wander Walker scooter. Instead of trying to venture on freeways and other public roads, these are designed for controlled environments, restricted to shuttling people to pre-determined destinations. Regardless of how zanily futuristic and even dangerous such machines might feel, especially the idea of sharing roads with driverless cars, that era is inevitable simply because artificial intelligence is far better at avoiding accidents than human drivers, said HIS analyst Egil Juliussen. Such technology will offer mobility to people who can’t drive or who don’t have cars, and it can also reduce pollution and global warming by delivering efficient driving, he said.

Other automakers, including General Motors, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Tesla are working on self-driving technology, as are companies outside the industry, such as Google and Uber. Honda Chairman Fumihiko Ike, who is also head of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association which is organizing the show, said the Japanese government was putting tremendous pressure on Japan’s automakers to perfect self-driving features. Japan is eager to showcase such technology in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, such as having driverless cars pick up athletes from airports and taking them to Olympic Village. Unexpected things could happen on roads, like a package falling off a van, and the human brain has better powers of the imagination than the best artificial intelligence, he said.

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