Remember when we were kids and used to watch “The Jetsons” or “The Fifth Element”? Who among us didn’t dream about cruising around in a space car capable of taking us anywhere we like in a blink of an eye. It seems that we have to wait a while longer for space cars, but in the meantime we have great news regarding the future of car driving. Nissan begins testing autonomous vehicles at the end of 2016.
The project of building the ultimate autonomous car is an old one and many car designers and engineers struggled to sketch the plans for the perfect car. Basically, an autonomous vehicle is a car that doesn’t require a crew in order to be driven. This new generation of cars are designed to replace traditionally manned vehicles.
So, how we ask ourselves the question, how does it work? Apparently an autonomous vehicle is capable of sensing and mapping its surroundings. Furthermore the car doesn’t require a human user to ensure navigation. They use technical equipment such as radar, lidar, GPS, and computer augmented vision in order to successfully map the environment. After processing the information, onboard computers are able to plot a navigation course, given certain terrain parameters such as road obstructions or traffic signals.
Apparently a true autonomous vehicle is capable of automatically update the course corrections necessary to navigate on a certain road. The projects dates back to the early ’20, but as far as the apparition of the first feasible projects we point out the ’80, more specifically the Navlab at Carnegie Mellon University. Among the most promising projects are Junior, a robotic vehicle developed by Volkswagen back in 2009 and Firebird II from General Motor.
Coming back to the shores of Japan, Nissan begins testing autonomous vehicles in order to improve traffic safety. The Nippon company announced that the vehicle is ready to begin its first test set on public roads. Also, the company wants to see how the car handles on the highway.
Nissan declared that the new prototype of autonomous vehicles will pack the “Zero Emission” feature and it is designed to ensure that there are no more fatalities on the road. The first stage of the program is set to start by the end of 2016, to see how the car handles highways. If all goes according to plan, Nissan plans to work on lane changing tactics by the end of 2018.
Finally, at the beginning of 2020, after extensive road testing, the new car will be launched in the big cities to see how it handles heavy traffic.
Using the Nissan Leaf EV technology the car will be equipped with a millimeter wave radar, laser scanners, onboard cameras and lots of computer chips.
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