Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced during his Consumer Electronics Show keynote that the Leaf EV will be getting a redesign soon. Although offering no teaser images, no formal timeline for its introduction or any guidance on what is rumored to be a significantly extended 200-mile range Ghosn did confirm the new Leaf would be equipped with Nissan’s ProPilot technology that has single-lane autonomous-drive capability.

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Introduced last year in Japan as an option on the home-market Serena minivan, ProPILOT currently has a 60-percent take rate in that market and the automaker plans to expand its availability in the coming years. The next stage is to add multi-lane functionality, which should further expand its attractiveness to consumers. Ghosn went on to state the Nissan-Renault Alliance would introduce 10 models with ProPILOT by 2020 in China, Europe, Japan and the U.S. as part of Nissan Intelligent Mobility program which also includes the launch of the firm’s Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system.

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Developed using NASA technology that helps control interplanetary robots like the Mars Rover, Nissan’s believes its SAM setup is the best way to accelerate the widespread implementation of autonomous capabilities. It’s design to effectively link in-vehicle artificial intelligence (AI) with real-time human support when necessary to help autonomous cars make decisions in unpredictable situations like road construction, accidents or malfunctioning traffic signals. When a SAM-equipped vehicle encounters this type of out-of-the-envelope environment, it brings itself to a safe stop and immediately contacts the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley. There, a mobility manager uses input from the car and other nearby autonomous vehicles to find a safe way to navigate through the problem area -- a solution that’s also passed on the other vehicles in what is effectively becomes a group learning experience.

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"Our goal is to change the transportation infrastructure," said Maarten Sierhuis, former NASA scientist and director of Nissan’s Silicon Valley operation. "We want to reduce fatalities and ease congestion. We need a huge number of vehicles out there. What we are doing at Nissan is finding a way so that we can have this future transportation system not in 20 years or more, but now."

More Autonomous Vehicle/Driver-Assist News:

BMW Vision Next 100 Concept looks toward tomorrow

KBB Study finds most Americans still prefer a hands-on approach

Ford’s Autonomous Fusion offers a peek into the future


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