While the race to develop autonomous vehicles seems to be focused on removing the driver from the driving experience, Nissan said it’s taking a different tack.
At a recent forum in Washington, D.C., Nissan said its approach is to enhance the driver’s experience “by introducing technologies that make cars more intelligent and more exciting partners.”
“Someday, when drivers want, the technology will be available to do the driving task for them,” said Andy Christensen, senior manager of Nissan Technical Center North America in Farmington Hill, Mich. “But at Nissan, we see the driver remaining engaged and integral well into the future.”
Christensen described the process as an evolution. As technology begins to tackle the complicated task of driving, the first phase in the evolution is driver-assistance technology such as Nissan ProPILOT Assist, which keeps the driver in full control.
“With continued advances in sensor and processing technology, more of the driving task will eventually be able to transfer from the driver to the system and ultimately allow the driver to do something other than drive the vehicle,” said Christensen.
Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan Research Center Silicon Valley, and Tracy Woodard, director of Government Affairs for Nissan North America, joined Christensen in sharing Nissan’s perspective on the future of autonomous vehicles. Woodard said hosting the event was important to “showcasing our approach to autonomous vehicles and leadership in how we are going about thoughtful rollout of these technologies.”
And as lawmakers, regulators and states grapple to understand the opportunities, challenges, realities, misconceptions, present and future of autonomous vehicles, Woodard said Nissan wants to help keep the conversation moving forward.
“Bringing our experts to Washington shows our willingness to engage on these topics with the groups and decision-makers who attended,” said Woodard.
Among those attending Nissan’s informational event were members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.