Speed Reads

The future is here

Nissan expects to soon start testing driverless cars in Japan

By 2020, Nissan plans on having driverless cars in commercial operation, the company's chairman and chief executive announced Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Carlos Ghosn said the autonomous vehicles will soon be tested in Japan, and unlike other companies, Nissan plans on incorporating technology developed by NASA in the cars. Maarten Sierhuis, director of the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley, told the Los Angeles Times that the vehicles will have systems that allow human "mobility managers" to intervene in a situation that the car might not be able to handle, like crossing a double yellow line if the lane is blocked. When it encountered obstacles, the Mars Rover robot was able to be directed by people back on Earth, and to develop the automotive version of this system, Nissan is working with NASA's Ames Research Center.

Because one of the "biggest hurdles to driverless vehicles is customer acceptance," the system will give owners "peace of mind," Sierhuis said. While it is still in the development stages, the driverless vehicle will be "on the road sooner than you think."