Renault-Nissan to launch ten autonomous vehicles by 2020
Plans revealed to bring the technology to the market alongside key rivals and in affordable cars
Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced plans to launch at least ten new vehicles with autonomous functions over the next four years.
The technology will be available on "mainstream, mass-market cars at affordable prices" and will go on sale in the US, European, Japanese and Chinese markets.
With human error reputedly behind 90 per cent of road traffic fatalities, the plans are "part of the Alliance's drive to improve safety in its cars", Car magazine said, as well as the start of a catch-up on other manufacturers who have already begun extensive autonomous-car development programmes.
The drive towards the new technology will be mated to advances the manufacturers have already made in zero emission and electric powertrains.
"Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of 'zero emissions and zero fatalities,'" said chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn.
The technology itself will be introduced three-fold. This year, the company will introduce "single-lane control" technology that allows autonomous driving capabilities on the motorway. This will be followed in 2018 by the launch of "multiple-lane control", a system which can negotiate hazards and change lanes, before the introduction of "intersection autonomy" in 2020, which will navigate heavy inner-city traffic and junctions without driver input. The driving modes are optional.
Renault-Nissan also revealed plans to introduce new connected-car technologies. Starting with an app allowing owners to interact with their vehicles, features will include deeper smartphone integration into the car's multimedia system while a smart personal assistant will follow.
No models have been revealed or hinted at yet, but Autocar says the Nissan Leaf is a prime candidate to be an early adopter, especially after the recent reveal of the IDS concept at the Toyko Motor Show – a preview of the next generation Leaf with self-driving capabilities that can learn and mimic its driver.