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Nissan aims to launch autonomous drive systems by 2020

by Justin King

Nissan has announced an ambitious plan to bring autonomous vehicles onto the market by 2020.

The Japanese automaker is planning on launching two related technologies by the end of 2016, including a fully-automated parking system and a "traffic-jam pilot" feature that autonomously drives in congested traffic.

"This will be followed in 2018 by the introduction of multiple-lane controls, allowing cars to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes," Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said at an event in Japan. "And before the end of the decade, we will introduce intersection-autonomy, enabling vehicles to negotiate city cross-roads without driver intervention."

Google is currently working on an autonomous vehicle that completely omits traditional controls, such as a steering wheel or accelerator pedal, however major automakers -- including Nissan -- are betting that drivers will prefer a seamless experience pairing self-driving assistance with manual driving.

Ghosn predicts that vehicles must continue to improve in-car communications technology, while bringing more features aimed at the growing population of senior citizens.

"These consumers want technologies and automated systems that enable them to drive safely, for longer," the executive said.

The all-electric Leaf will likely be the first vehicle to feature many of the autonomous-driving innovations, though the technology promises to spread across Nissan's broader lineup.

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