Nissan plans to release self-driving cars commercially by 2020

Nissan announced on Tuesday it plans to have a fleet of self-driving, autonomous cars commercially ready by 2020. Autonomous cars have been research projects for many large technology and vehicle companies in recent years, with Google being the biggest stand-out as it works to spread information about the product. Nissan is the first to give a date.

The company says it has been working for years to bring autonomous driving cars to the masses, with global teams of engineers carrying out research and building technology. To advance the technology, a test ground for the cars is being built in Japan for completion by the end of 2014, to ensure the cars are safe for the masses.

Of course with 2020 being quite a bit away, Nissan didn't detail the cars, but said the goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations. Nissan says realistic prices will be set for customers, as it wants this to be a product for the masses, rather than just a few of its more wealthy customers. 

"In 2007 I pledged that - by 2010 - Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle," Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, said. "Today, the Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric vehicle in history. Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realise it."

Obviously, one of the main goals of a self-driving car is to minimise crashes. Nissan says it will extend its current Safety Shield features for self-driving cars, offering a 360-degree view around a vehicle for risks, offers warnings to the driver and takes action if necessary. Of course, it will take more than just that technology wise for you to sit behind the wheel and roll without any action.

Auto-focused blog Jalopnik actually got the chance to ride in one of Nissan's autonomous cars currently being used for testing. They're currently souped up with a slew of computers, and have visual cameras, radar, sonar and laser range-finding to figure out where they are in relation to the world around them. Jalopnik was quick to note the ride was "boring. And that's exactly what they want it to be."