Roads could look very different in the year 2020 if Nissan's plans for an autonomous fleet of vehicles becomes a reality. The automaker announced that it hopes to have multiple, commercially-viable autonomous drive vehicles on the road by 2020.
Nissan has begun working on the development of driverless cars through partnerships with MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford and the University of Tokyo. It is also building the first dedicated, purpose-built autonomous drive proving ground; the facility in Japan will feature brick townscapes and real roads.
Nissan says there's a need for the technology, citing rising traffic and crash statics. "Six million crashes in the U.S. per year cost $160 billion and rank as the top reason of death for 4- to 34-year-olds. And, 93% of accidents in the U.S. are due to human error, typically due to inattention," it said in a statement.
The technology can't be cheap, but Nissan says otherwise. "Nissan's autonomous driving will be achieved at realistic prices for consumers. The goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations," the automaker said in a statement.Nissan isn't the first automaker or company to explore driverless cars. Google has been developing the technology for years, as have other automakers such as Audi.
While the dangers of the driverless cars are obvious, some states are ready; in 2011, Nevada passed legislation that would allow autonomous cars to operate on its highways. Earlier this summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began drafting driverless-car safety guidelines for the U.S.