THE Renault-Nissan alliance, spelling out exactly which self-driving features the pair of united car-makers will roll out in the next four years, says 10 new autonomous tech-equipped models are due to surface before 2020.
First to arrive will be a “single-lane control” function later this year, which will allow vehicles fitted with the system to negotiate more straightforward motoring such as freeway cruising and stop-start traffic without driver intervention.
Alliance head Carlos Ghosn said in a statement: “Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of zero emissions and zero fatalities. That’s why we are developing autonomous driving and connectivity for mass-market, mainstream vehicles on three continents.”
By 2018, the alliance will have developed the technology into “multiple-lane control”, which can handle more than one lane, allowing lane changes and the avoidance of obstacles on freeway sections.
Before 2020, the systems will have advanced to allow the negotiation of more complex scenarios involving heavy urban traffic and junctions with the “intersection autonomy” function.
The various levels of technology will not just be limited to high-end or concept vehicles according to the partnership, and will be incorporated into “mainstream mass-market cars at affordable prices,” it said in a statement.
With continued advances in the field of self driving cars, Renault-Nissan says that among the numerous benefits, vehicle autonomy has the potential to dramatically reduce road fatalities and serious injuries.
At this stage only the United States, Europe, China and Japan are mentioned in the technology timeline.
No model names have been put forward at this stage so it is not known whether any of the 10 new vehicles will rely on existing products as a basis, or if a new standalone model will result.
In 2013, Nissan announced it was investing heavily in future autonomous technology and that it had started developing a fleet of self-driving cars based on its all-electric Leaf small hatchback.
The company is also working on advances in connected vehicles and is due to release a new mobile device application this year that allows users to interact with their cars remotely.
The application will be followed next year by the Alliance Multimedia System, which updates in-car information systems with faster and more flexible multimedia and navigation systems.
A year later, the company will roll out its Virtual Personal Assistant, allowing vehicle owners to stay connected to their various devices including their car, via an emerging network that connects household objects via the internet.
To champion the cause, Renault-Nissan has created a new position within the converged engineering organisation, and has appointed Ogi Redzic to the role of connected vehicles and mobility services senior vice president.
Redzic will oversee some of the engineering operations of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which was created in 1999 to pool resources and avoid unnecessary duplication of technologies.
Renault-Nissan is already the industry’s zero-emission leader; the Alliance has sold nearly 300,000 all-electric vehicles in the US since the first Nissan LEAF was sold in the San Francisco Bay Area in December 2010.
Safety and efficiency of vehicles across the Renault-Nissan Alliance have increased significantly over time. For example, fatal and serious injuries in Nissan vehicles in Japan decreased 61 percent in 20 years; fatal and serious injuries in Renault vehicles in France decreased 80 percent in 15 years.
Autonomous drive is expected to help further reduce driver error, which is responsible for up to 90 percent of all fatalities.