Like electric vehicles, autonomous driving technology has grown quite impressively since its initial introduction to the world. Now every manufacturer is in a hurry to develop and produce the next best level of autonomous technology. Now Renault-Nissan has announced that it is about to flood the market in full force, promising to hit a goal of launching more than ten different vehicles with autonomous capabilities in the next four years, with the primary markets being the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China.

The goal is to include this technology with mainstream cars without increasing the price to the point that the cars are unaffordable. Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan’s chairman and CEO said, “Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of ’zero emissions and zero fatalities. That’s why we are developing autonomous driving and connectivity for mass-market, mainstream vehicles on three continents.”

Reducing Fatalities and Emissions has been a huge success for the Alliance so far, with almost 300,000 all electric vehicles sold in the last six years, and a drastic drop in fatal and serious accidents in Nissan and Renault vehicles. Sometime this year, the alliance plans to improve on that success by introducing “single-lane” control – an autonomous feature that should bring autonomous highway driving to the masses.

The technology will allow cars to navigate within one lane and automatically steer around bends, while controlling the throttle and brakes automatically to accommodate changes in traffic. Come 2018, “multiple-lane control” should allow Renault and Nissan cars to change lanes and negotiate traffic even better. One 2020 hits, the alliance plans to debut “intersection autonomy” that will allow properly equipped cars to navigate through cities and heavy traffic without the need for driver input.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

In addition to all of this autonomous development, and the promises to bring it sooner than later, Renault-Nissan also announced the future release of a new mobile app. The mobile app will allow remote interaction with properly equipped cars. In 2017, it will build on that system further and launch an “Alliance Multimedia System,” which will provide better smartphone integration, and map updates. In 2018, the Alliance plans to support a new “Virtual Assistant” feature with its Alliance Connectivity and Internet of Things platform.

All of this news from the Renault-Nissan alliance is great, but I’m still a little skeptical. That technology will be great to have, but rushing such a thing could lead to more problems than gains, if it isn’t perfected before it is released. I understand the want to be the first to introduce this technology to mass-market cars, but it seems to me that the alliance is aiming to have fully autonomous cars a bit too soon. There are sure to be security flaws that have yet to be realized, which could bring serious danger if left unchecked. All this autonomous technology will run off of various sensors and cameras. A smart hacker with the ability to disrupt these sensors could easily cause a major problem for a lot of cars at once if they are running in autonomous mode. Just food for thought, but a very real potential for disaster.

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Press Release

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous drive technology in the next four years.

The global car group confirmed today that it will launch a range of vehicles with autonomous capabilities in the United States, Europe, Japan and China through 2020. The technology will be installed on mainstream, mass-market cars at affordable prices.

In addition, Renault-Nissan will launch a suite of new connectivity applications that will make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks.

"Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of ’zero emissions and zero fatalities,’" Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said at the Renault-Nissan Silicon Valley Research Center. "That’s why we are developing autonomous driving and connectivity for mass-market, mainstream vehicles on three continents."

Zero emission and zero fatalities

Renault-Nissan is already the industry’s zero-emission leader by far. The Alliance has sold nearly 300,000 all-electric vehicles since the first Nissan LEAF was sold in the San Francisco Bay Area in December 2010.

Safety and efficiency of vehicles across the Renault-Nissan Alliance have increased dramatically. For instance, fatal and serious injuries in Nissan vehicles in Japan decreased 61 percent in 20 years; fatal and serious injuries in Renault vehicles in France decreased 80 percent in 15 years.

Autonomous drive is expected to help further reduce driver error, which is responsible for up to 90 percent of all fatalities.

The year 2016 will mark the debut of vehicles with "single-lane control," a feature that allows cars to drive autonomously on highways, including in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. In 2018, Renault-Nissan will launch vehicles with "multiple-lane control," which can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. And 2020 will see the launch of "intersection autonomy," which can navigate city intersections and heavy urban traffic without driver intervention.

Later this year the Alliance will launch a new automotive app for mobile devices, which allows remote interaction with your car. Next year, it will launch the first "Alliance Multimedia System," providing new multimedia and navigation features, as well as improved smartphone integration and wireless map updates. In 2018, the Alliance Connectivity & Internet of Things platform will support the new Virtual Personal Assistant feature for individual and business customers.

All of the Alliance’s autonomous drive technology will be available at the option of the driver.

Convergence for the win

In 2014, Renault-Nissan "converged" both companies’ engineering organizations. Engineers at Renault and Nissan work together as one team to reduce duplication in the development of next-generation technologies. The technology Renault and Nissan engineers develop together is then available for each company and all brands to use where it makes sense for consumers.

In other words, Renault-Nissan engineers have developed a "technology tool kit," including hardware and software applications. Product teams from Renault, Nissan, Infiniti and other Alliance brands may select those applications for their models, where appropriate. By partnering on advanced research and development, Renault and Nissan are able to work more efficiently, with less cost, and thereby deliver higher value vehicles to their customers.

Renault-Nissan has a research and development budget of about US$5 billion. The world’s fourth largest car group, which sells one in 10 cars globally, has research centers in Atsugi, Japan; Guyancourt, France; Farmington Hills, Michigan; and Sunnyvale, California. Renault-Nissan also has large engineering centers in India, Brazil, Romania, Turkey and China, among others.

The Alliance also announced today the hiring of technology executive Ogi Redzic to lead the global car group’s connected car initiative as Alliance senior vice president, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services.

Redzic joins Renault-Nissan after positions at Nokia, NAVTEQ, Motorola, and at wireless communication startup cyberPIXIE. He most recently served as senior vice president, Automotive at Nokia HERE, where he led the Automotive Business Group. Redzic, whose new role is effective immediately, will be based in Paris and oversee teams in France and Japan.

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