North America could see autonomous vehicles on its roads well before Europe, according to Nissan.
Speaking shortly after the reveal of the new Qashqai at the Geneva Motor Show, the company’s European vice-president, Ponz Pandikuthira, said he was aiming to offer vehicles capable of autonomously navigating urban environments in just three years’ time.
“Our target by 2020 is for level-three autonomy,” he said. “This is where the vehicle can navigate intersections in an urban section.”
“That’s a global target, but it all depends on how the regulations progress. So if we get the required support from a government we could see these timelines get pulled ahead very quickly.”
However, Nissan Europe’s product communications manager, Steve McLennan, said the need for European cars to cater for different driving environments and rules makes the introduction of an autonomous car more complicated.
“Europe, in fact, is the most complicated place to introduce autonomous technology,” he said. “Our job is to master well over 30 different individual markets, with different regulations, different road cambers and other variants that add to the complexity of the task.
“So Europe is, in many ways, more difficult than North America or Japan or wherever.”
But while full autonomy is still a while off, Nissan is leading the charge for change.
In the first quarter of 2018, the new Qashqai will be offered the manufacturer’s ProPilot suite of autonomous technologies, including Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The pre-existing aids of Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Warning will also feature.
The Japanese company has also become the first to test a fully autonomous vehicle on Britain’s roads, and the governments of both Spain and Russia have approached Nissan with similar intentions.