A Nissan electric car that can park itself and approach its driver when "called" upon was unveiled at the Ceatec 2012 show in Tokyo.
Entitled the Nissan NSC-2015, the vehicle is currently a prototype, but its name suggests the company plan to launch the car by 2015. The NSC-2015 is a modified version of Nissan's Leaf car. It depends on cameras, sensors, computers and 4G communication technology for wireless links to navigate. To turn its wheel, meanwhile, robotics can be used, which is also utilized in order to change gears and brake.
When demonstrated at the show, the NSC drove itself at around 3mph (5km/h) in a straight line in both a forward and reverse capacity, as well as being able to successfully turn.
Nissan showcased that the vehicle could recognize road markings and was able to stop at a crossing when required. A representative from the car maker also controlled it externally, where he made the car drive towards him as he pressed several buttons on his smartphone.
"After the driver exits the NSC-2015, it starts to park itself automatically, following the instructions given by smartphone," Nissan said. "The vehicle looks for a vacant parking space while identifying its surroundings; once it detects an open parking space automated parking begins. The driver can also use smartphone commands to make the NSC-2015 vehicle leave the parking space and return to the place where he or she is."
"While parked, the car's security camera system automatically works with a camera installed in the vehicle. If the system detects suspicious behaviour, the driver is alerted automatically by a report to his or her smartphone," the company added.
However, Nissan's Tooru Futami, the engineering director at its electronics engineering development division, told Forbes that the NSC is not capable of self-driving down the street or park itself in any space yet.
Futami stressed that the demo version shown could only park itself in an area equipped with sensors, as well as being restricted to other robotic cars in order to avoid the risk of collision.
Nissan, of course, isn't the only firm who have entered the self-driving car market. Search engine giants Google already have their models successfully running in the state of Nevada, with the self-driving cars already having covered 300,000 miles.
I love the idea of a self-driving car. Nissan should keep going with this and so should everyone else. There are a dozen things I'd rather be doing than driving, especially if I'm stuck in traffic. Having the car do things on its own is very appealing to me. I do have to wonder how the computer would behave in the presence of poorly marked roads. Plenty of roads in Maryland have nearly completely worn lines or lines that were put down by drunken highway construction crews judging from the way the stripes weave back and forth.
I imagine Google's is a package of past research from universities and other organizations that it bought the rights to. Google's solution is the only practical one. In which the car needs to read road markings and watch cars around it. Something that requires all sorts sensors in the roadways, parking lots, &c and only works with other autonomous cars is impractical.
Although Google's solution is hardly new. It's just another step forward. As I recall about a decade ago autonomous cars had already hit the 50 mph mark, handle moderate traffic and most road conditions. Which means it could even do dirt roads.
I don't even see the point in this article. It's like talking about someone coming out with a new 8086 and floppy drive when Intel has the Core i7 and SSD.
It has the potential to stick it to the damn insurance companies
All these gadgets take the fun out of "driving".