Nissan to Have Commercially Viable "Autonomous Drive" Vehicles by 2020

After conducting extensive research for years, Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) said this week it will complete an "autonomous driving proving ground" in Japan by the end of fiscal 2014 to begin testing the requisite technology that will allow it to bring self-driving cars to mainstream consumers by 2020.

Nissan engineers, according to the company, have been working with teams from universities around the world, including MIT, University of Tokyo, Stanford, and Oxford, to bring autonomous driving to consumers at "realistic prices," within two vehicle generations.

CEO Carlos Ghosn, commenting in a press release on the timing of Nissan's pledge to bring self-driving cars to consumers, said "I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it."

Ghosn has said before that he wants Nissan to be the first to sell self-driving cars. But Tuesday's announcement was more specific. Nissan already offers some technology that's used in autonomous cars, including motion-detecting cameras.

According to Nissan, the proving ground will include "real townscapes -- masonry not mock-ups" and "will be used to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads to ensure the technology is safe."

According to Nissan's statement, 93% of car accidents in the U.S. are due to human error, and crashes are the leading cause of death among 4-to-34-year-olds.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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