Nissan Plans Autonomous Car By 2020

The race to develop a driverless car is on, driven in large part by the efforts of Google, although plenty of other companies such as Intel and Ford are investing heavily into developing such technology as well. You can count Nissan as one major car maker that’s in the fray, as CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed the company’s plans to reporters in Tokyo.

Nissan has a roadmap for a nearly autonomous car by 2020. By 2016, Nissan will have vehicles that can self-park; by 2018, they’ll be able to change lanes without driver intervention, and by 2020 they’ll be able to navigate intersections autonomously.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan's electric Leaf

Ostensibly, autonomous cars will reduce the number of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths on the world’s roads. That seems entirely reasonable, as driverless cars won’t be inebriated, tired, distracted by texting, or struggling with failing eyesight and slowing reflexes, but removing liability from human drivers will also open up lots of tricky questions about who’s at fault (and responsible) when, not if, driverless cars are in serious traffic accidents.

Google's self-driving car
Google's self-driving car

Would it be the auto maker itself? The company that designed the OS? A subsystem developer that failed to update firmware or software quickly enough?

Ghosn said that he wants Nissan to be the first to roll out this driverless future, but the company may also end up pioneering early legislation regarding it, too.