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Nissan says its self-driving cars can handle door-to-destination travel by 2020

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Caros Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, experiences the riding in the driver’s seat of an{ }autonomous-drive Infiniti Q50 as it navigates the streets of Sunnyvale in California’s Silicon Valley in January of 2017. (Image courtesy of Infiniti USA)

Nissan recently demonstrated an Infiniti Q50-based prototype fitted with the most advanced version of its ProPilot self-driving system.

ProPilot is Nissan and Infiniti’s new banner for self-driving technologies, and right now it only consists of electronic driver assist features, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and warning systems. However, much more advanced features are coming, and sooner than you think.

The system demonstrated on the Q50 prototype is said to offer fully self-driving capability from your door to your destination. You simply key in your destination in the navigation system and the car will take you there.

And we’re not talking highway driving only. According to Nissan, the system can handle complex situations such as intersections, merging, changing lanes and even toll booths.


And perhaps most incredible of all is Nissan’s promise to have the system ready to deploy as early as 2020, though the automaker doesn’t mention whether it will be available on a showroom model or reserved for test fleets.

The system relies on artificial intelligence as well as multiple sources of data input. The list includes 12 cameras, nine millimeter-wave radars, six laser scanners, 12 sonars and a high-definition map. The AI element analyzes all of the incoming data in real time and then controls the car to a degree of comfort comparable to a human driver, Nissan says.

The system is, for all intents and purposes, at Level 4 self-driving capability. This is because it can operate safely in specific conditions—typically where HD maps are available and weather conditions aren’t too harsh—without the need of the driver. However, outside of those specific conditions a driver will be required, so someone needs to be behind the wheel at all times.

The next level up is the ultimate goal, where a car can handle all situations on its own and thus requires no driver on board. At this point, Bob Lutz has warned, driving may be banned altogether. Let's hope not.

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