New ProPilot Self-Driving Nissan Leaf Confirmed

Jan 06, 2017 06:30 AM EST | Jeroah Sabado

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Nissan is one of the automakers that are using this year's CES stage to announce autonomous and connectivity developments. CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, confirmed plans for a follow-up to his company's flagship EV, the Leaf.

Nissan will collaborate with the Japanese internet company, DeNA, to bring self-driving cars to the commercial vehicle market by 2020. Ghosn also stated that the new Nissan Leaf will be an additional asset to the current autonomous tech developments.

There isn't much details regarding the next gen Leaf. Ghosn is yet to confirm how much it will cost or how much range it will have, but the new Leaf will be equipped with Nissan's ProPilot autonomous driving technology. In addition, Nissan announced the launch of its new Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM), a system designed to identify autonomous vehicle reactions should an unpredictable situation occurs. SAM utilizes artificial intelligence to recognize the situations where human intervention is required to avoid the autonomous vehicle to act on its own.

SAM is modeled after the Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) software of NASA. In effect, SAM is smart enough to know that it's not smart enough to fully comprehend certain situations. Renault-Nissan is also furthering its partnership with Microsoft to build new connected car applications. The company is planning to add Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant capability to improve convenience features for all passengers.

Nissan said its strategy in bringing autonomous driving to the masses is based on four phases. The first phase is autonomous driving in single lanes on the highway, to help keep the car centered by reading lane markers and measure the distance with the vehicle in front.

Phase two is autonomous driving in multilane highways, allowing the vehicle to change lanes autonomously. Phase three is to drive across the whole city, which is said to be available in 2020, while the fourth and final phase is fully autonomous and driverless vehicles.

Nissan's plan makes it clear that the company intends to go all-in to the autonomous vehicle development. It's true that it will take some time, but having it perfect the first time actually beats being the first to do it.

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