Nissan Motor Company recently took the automobile industry by surprise when it promised to deliver 'autonomous cars' in less than seven years from now.
The Nissan Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Carlos Ghosn, announced that the company would be selling the specially built vehicles to the general public by 2020.
An autonomous car, according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, refers to a robotic car, or a self-driving vehicle capable of fulfilling the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car.
Experts say a robotic vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. It does this with such techniques as radar, lidar, Global Positioning System and computer vision.
The idea of having autonomous vehicles may sound unrealistic but experts say it is feasible.
Autonomous cars have at least been in the public consciousness for ages. If not around the corner, they were around the corner of the horizon, according an online auto reviewer, Car and driver.
It was as if other automobile manufacturers were waiting for the Nissan’s announcement. Mercedes Benz, General Motors, BMW, Google and several other firms have confirmed working on similar efforts. Many have settled for 2020 for the roll out.
For instance, Mercedes has just showcased its fully autonomous S-Class, promising the production version in 2020.
A report on Sunday by digitaltrends.com indicated that while the newly redesigned 2014 S-Class had some autonomous capabilities, mostly useful for driving in stop-and-go traffic, Mercedes has also built a fully autonomous prototype, the 2020 version, which would drive itself.
It reported that last month, the S500 Intelligent Drive went on a 60-mile road trip in Germany.
The S500 Intelligent Drive was said to have conquered traffic, stoplights, roundabouts, and other driving obstacles without crashing once, according to Mercedes. However, an engineer seated behind the wheel did have to take control in a few instances.
With its array of cameras, sensors, and radar, the 2014 S-Class already had the makings of an autonomous car; it could gather enough data about its environment to support an autopilot.
The S500 Intelligent Drive uses this data, along with a digital map, to determine where it can go. The map was developed by Nokia, and includes important details like the number and direction of lanes, position of traffic lights, and road signs.
The Japanese auto giant, Toyota Motor Corporation, is not left out of the autonomous car passion. It had unveiled the prototype in January but said it would keep drivers in control.