What Google can do with a Toyota Prius, someone else can do with a Nissan Leaf. At least, that’s the message Nissan wants to send after showcasing its own take on Google’s automated car at the 2012 Ceatec exhibition in Japan. As Engadget reports, the self-driving Nissan Leaf can move itself forward slowly, stop at crosswalks, park itself, and even let you know if someone is trying to break in.
Sadly, the technology demonstrated in Nissan’s first automated electric car isn’t quite at the level yet where it could drive on a busy public highway, or speed down an autobahn without human interaction.
For now, that doesn’t bother the Nissan engineers working on the project. After all, self-driving cars aren’t yet legal for use on public roads in Japan. At the moment then, the self-driving Leaf is more useful as its own parking valet.
Arrive at your destination, get out, and the self-driving Leaf will move off, find itself a parking space, and perform the most perfect of parking maneuvers you’re likely to see. What’s more–in a move reminiscent of Tomorrow Never Dies– the whole process can be controlled by an Android smartphone over the car’s fully-integrated LTE data connection.
There’s no information on how the self-driving Nissan Leaf charges itself, although it’s likely any commercialization of the technology would include inductive charging in order to maximize the usability of the system. The writing on the side of the self-driving Nissan Leaf demonstration vehicles–NSC-2015–has been seen by some commentators as possibly an obscure StarTrek reference, or perhaps a hint that Nissan is planning to bring the features to market some time in 2015.
Given that California has just joined Nevada in legalizing self-driving cars for use on public highways, might the U.S. soon be seeing prototype self-driving Nissan Leafs driving around Silicon Valley and the Nevada Desert?
First published on BI