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Nissan to build driverless cars by 2020

Your awful driving and poor vision won’t necessarily matter in the near future.

By James_Tate Aug 28, 2013 8:43AM

Cars that drive themselves, a science-fiction story in the 1950s and '60s, is starting to become reality. Just this week, Nissan announced its big plans to have multiple self-driving vehicles ready for retail sale in seven short years, if and when federal and state regulators agree.

That means by 2020, when baby boomers’ vision starts to blur and reaction times slow to a sometimes-fatal rate, there will be a safe option, other than hiring a driver or staying at home. 

According to recent data from the Administration on Aging, by 2030, roughly 72 million people – 19 percent of the U.S. population – will be 65 years or older. With age comes a decrease in driving confidence and capabilities. With current life expectancy pushing all-time highs, the autonomous car actually seems to make sense.

With the ultimate goal of zero auto-related fatalities, Nissan is in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Oxford and other high-ranking universities to research and test autonomous capabilities. There’s even a program in Japan to build a dedicated autonomous driving ground, complete with concrete walls and a true cityscape, which will be used to test the self-driving vehicle in complete safety from public roads. Of course, no matter how safe these things are, there still won’t be any accounting for rogue commuters taking matters into their own hands.


Since the 1980s, when Mercedes-Benz and Bundeswehr University in Munich built the world's first modern autonomous car, the concept of a driver-free vehicle has inspired just about every major automaker. But only recently has the technology started to work on a major scale.

Florida, Nevada, and California have received federal approval for autonomous-vehicle testing and have been issuing special licenses to automakers, suppliers and tech companies. In April 2012, Cadillac unveiled the Super Cruise, an array of autopilot controls that could be ready as soon as 2015. In January, Lexus introduced a modified, autonomous LS, and Audi received a license to test autonomous vehicles in Nevada, making it the third company to do so since Google was first granted approval in May 2012. In February, BMW and automotive supplier Continental announced they would also bring autonomous cars to production by 2020

As the majority of fatal accidents are due to human error, driverless cars should certainly serve to curb the odds. They might make driving more fun – boring, stressful commutes could be eliminated – and you'll be more productive than ever before, actually working on the way to work. We're not looking forward to that.


[Sources: Nissan, Automotive News]

Aug 28, 2013 10:22AM

Just this morning I witnessed a driverless car, a lady putting on eye makeup all while flying down the freeway at 70 mph weaving from side to side, a guy on the other side texting away, also weaving. I see this everyday of the week. I cant believe people are actually this stupid.  As for autonomous cars, I cant wait. Anything to get these idiots away from control would be a huge improvement.

Aug 28, 2013 10:47AM

it will be wonderful for drunk people

Aug 28, 2013 10:29AM

It's not just old people who can drive like crap, it is the idiots driving while talking on their cellphones - nevermind texting!


Can't tell you how many times I see people taking corners without looking, pulling into traffic, driving like idiots in parking lots, never using turn signals - but they easily can focus on their conversations over their phones.

Aug 28, 2013 10:26AM
Aug 28, 2013 10:37AM

I'm thinking that the driverless car would never fly here. Why, the insurance companies would have a cow. If nobody drives, than nobody needs insurance. With that, the whole system would begin to break down. Where would all those lobbyist go if there were no more need for their services?


ON the up-side, people would live longer, doctors at the hospital triages and emergency rooms would have more time to tend to lesser problems... ok, going to the e-room is never a lesser problem, but hey, the doctors would be there with a better dispassion. The police could actually get to solve real crimes and politicians could hear more from the public. (Hmm, starting to like this idea.) What do you think we should do with all this new free time? Maybe we could  text, paint your faces, read a book.... or even sleep.

Aug 28, 2013 10:33AM

probably 40% of the vehicles I encounter every day are already being operated by mindless occupants. I would trust computer controls more than many of the drivers I see today.


why does one come to a complete stop to make a right hand turn in absence of traffic and traffic controls, yet the same person will nail the accelerator to make a left turn crossing in front of me. if they knew I can't stop one of the hands long enough to install my new brake pads and my doctor won't let me, they would think twice about forcing me into a panic stop.


why is the left lane so desirable while texting at 5-10 miles under the speed limit. once you pass them on whichever side is available, the driver realizes it is going slow, immediately passes you and pulls back in front, only to slow down again for the next text.


and my queen wonders why I like my dirt 'cheater roads.'

Aug 28, 2013 10:54AM

Hackers will have fun if the security of the controls are breached. If the federal security can be breached what do you what some nut might do with a car.


Aug 28, 2013 10:36AM

Well, your older mother and dad need a ride and you can't take them VOILA now the problem is solved


Aug 28, 2013 10:53AM
When is the womanless woman coming out?
Aug 28, 2013 10:25AM


As a man who has driven performance cars, the whole idea there is pure driving excitement, becoming one with the machine (that really is true), and that the journey to wherever is its own reward.  Most men understand what I am saying.  Now if we get into cars that drive us places, well then, the world has become more sad, that with the passing of fossil fuels and the good old horsepower combustion engine.  Right guys?  So no i'm not down with the idea of sitting in a robot car and letting it take me somewhere.  Let the techno be built in NOW so that no matter how stupid some drunk 17 year old is, the car will not let him/her crash.

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