The driverless car concept is soon to become a mass-market reality. Nissan just debuted the IDS (Intelligent Driving System) Concept ahead of its official launch at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, joining the list of domestic and European brands already exploring self-driving technology. Sporting a lithium-ion battery pack, two driving modes, and an interior that automatically reconfigures itself, the IDS Concept will promote a social, stress-free passenger environment.
The IDS Concept is the culmination of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s push to have autonomous Nissans in production by 2020. In a press release, Ghosn placed emphasis on the IDS’s potential to provide an enjoyable travel experience–“Nissan Intelligent Driving improves the driver’s ability to see, think and react. It compensates for human error,” he said. “As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun.”
The IDS Concept can operate in either Manual or Piloted Drive settings, using a different interior layout for each. In Manual Drive, the cabin layout is traditional, allowing passengers full control over speed and steering. Piloted Drive, however, tucks away the steering wheel and instrument cluster, rotates the seats inward for a more relaxed, social setting, and uses sensors, cameras, and lasers to guide the vehicle autonomously. Manual Drive allows the IDS’s software to “learn” the driver’s acceleration and steering habits, thereby customizing the Piloted Drive experience.
IDS technology could first be deployed on the existing Leaf platform, although Nissan hopes to bring the concept’s carbon fiber body and increased-capacity Li-Ion batteries to the market eventually.
Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Tesla, and Google are also knee-deep in autonomous car development––USA Today already tested Mercedes-Benz’s F 015 concept in Spring 2015, while Ford is purportedly testing its camera-based autonomous vehicles. Few details have surfaced about Ford’s progress, but CEO Mark Fields is touting a vehicle that’s “accessible to everyone and not just luxury customers, because that’s who we are as a company.”
Google has logged over 1 million miles of autonomous vehicle travel through its fleet of modified Lexus RX350s, and the company’s home-grown autonomous coupe drew attention during its launch earlier this year. And, of course, Tesla’s Elon Musk boldly announced that he expects his company to begin production of self-driving cars “within three years.” Tesla’s AutoPilot feature debuted on the Model S’s most recent software update, and Musk believes that he can crowdsource real-world AutoPilot data to create an intelligent autonomous system.
The self-driving car space is crowded, well-funded, and extremely competitive, so there are high expectations for Nissan’s IDS program, especially given its generous timeframe. Targeting the Nissan autonomous vehicle line toward the mass market would minimize competition and maximize the company’s customer base––stay tuned on TFLcar.com for more developments.
In the video below, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated the near-autonomous driving capabilities of this E-Class outfitted with technology that is available today.