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Nissan’s 20-20 Vision for Autonomous Drive

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August 27 – Irvine, Calif. – Nissan announced Tuesday a plan to make Autonomous Drive vehicles commercially viable by 2020, looking to change the game for mobility as it did with the all-electric LEAF.

Executive Vice President Andy Palmer made the announcement at the Nissan 360 event in Irvine, California, later speaking with the Global Media Center.

Global Media Center:

Nissan made a big announcement concerning Autonomous Drive technology. What are the specifics?

EVP Palmer:

I think we’ve shocked the world again. It’s a little bit like Groundhog Day in 2008 when we told the world that we were going to be the leaders in zero-emission. We’ve done it again.

We’ve announced that we’ll introduce an Autonomous Drive vehicle by 2020, and we said within two vehicle life cycles we’ll make that technology available across the entire portfolio, so what we’ve done is we built and fleshed out the two key pillars of Nissan Motor Co. – zero emissions and zero fatalities. Obviously, Autonomous Drive is about a goal of zero fatalities.

Global Media Center:

How are Autonomous Drive vehicles going to be used in the next few years?

EVP Palmer:

It’s hard to imagine just overnight, but you’re already seeing for a long time steps towards Autonomous Vehicles. To some extent – ABS; we don’t think about it now, but basically the machine overriding the human. More recently, drive by wire or direct steering is a foundation of Autonomous Drive.

Lane Departure, Emergency Stop – these are all components, and what you’ve got with the electronics of steering, throttle, brakes and shift – with the cameras coming from Around View Monitors, with the sensors from the Emergency Stop – you’ve put basically all the fundamental technology in, and what you add on top is the brain, and that’s essentially the hard bit, but what we’re saying is we can have that brain in place by 2020, and what we now need are regulatory changes to allow us to deploy.

Global Media Center:

A proving ground for Autonomous Drive was announced. How will it be activated and by when?

EVP Palmer:

The proving ground is finished by the end of fiscal 2014 – a big investment. In some ways it’s a demonstration of our commitment to the technology. Interesting, because it’s not a question of putting fake wooden buildings around and seeing how it goes, but we’re building buildings in the proving ground, so a big investment.

The technology is a learning technology – it takes all of the sensory data it has and builds its own internal kind of map and then looks at differences. The interesting point and what makes it distinctive from, let’s say, Google car. Everything’s on board – it doesn’t rely on the connected vehicle, although inevitably there‘s a kind of synergy between the electric car, the connected car and the Autonomous car, which is good for us because it brings all of our strategies together. The car itself will drive autonomously and also without the need for any particular infrastructure.

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