Ghosn lays out plans for electrified, fatality-free future
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has big plans for an electrified and automated future.
At a Thursday keynote address at CES, Ghosn listed an array of efforts the company is making to move toward zero emissions and zero fatalities. They included autonomous vehicle testing in Japan, an upcoming Nissan Leaf with autonomous capabilities, a human-operated help center for autonomous vehicles, and the integration of Microsoft’s connected car platform in Renault-Nissan Alliance vehicles.
Ghosn said the combined resources of Renault-Nissan Alliance as well as Mitsubishi, in which Nissan holds a controlling stake, allows the automaker to heavily invest in new technology. “No shortcuts, no blind spots,” he said.
The announcements are part of Nissan’s roadmap for autonomy, which envisions a gradual increase of autonomous development, from single lane highway capability, to multi-lane, to city driving to full autonomous. Ghosn predicts Nissan vehicles will hit the third stage by 2022 or 2023, but did not give a timeline for full autonomy.
Nissan’s initiatives focus on the development of autonomous vehicles on a short timeline. The automaker will begin testing self-driving cars on Japan roads in partnership with Japanese tech company DeNA with the goal of testing a driverless taxi service in Tokyo in 2020.
Though a release date was not given, the next generation Leaf will be equipped with ProPilot, a system that enables single-highway autonomous driving.
The automaker is also attempting to address growing pains during the development process. Its Seamless Autonomous Mobility system, developed in partnership with NASA, provides human-powered solutions to situations where an autonomous vehicle cannot act, like construction zones or blocked roadways. When a vehicle encounters such situations, it alerts SAM, and a mobility manager who can access the car’s location maps a solution and sends it back to the vehicle, relieving drivers from having to take over.
“It’s for situations when the AI cannot handle it, and you want HI, human intelligence, to take over,” said Ogi Redzic, senior vice president of connected vehicles and mobility services at Nissan, said in an interview with Automotive News.
Microsoft is building a connected car platform to provide cloud services to vehicles. Volvo and BMW have agreed to use parts of Microsoft’s technology with the integration of Skype and Office 365, respectively, but Renault-Nissan will be the first automaker to use the entire suite.
The platform is part of a partnership between the two companies inked in September, allowing Renault-Nissan to access Microsoft’s cloud computing services. Vehicles employing Microsoft technologies could be on the market as early as 2018.
Using Microsoft’s cloud technology, the software allows automakers to access the vehicle’s data to predict maintenance as well as driver data for research, operate Microsoft’s productivity services (including Office 365 and the virtual assistant Cortana) and provide realtime and contextual navigation. The data produced and collected by the platform can also be used for machine learning in autonomous driving systems, the company said.
“It’s an agile, open platform,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, in an interview with Automotive News. Automakers “can choose what pieces they want to work with, but it all works together.”