Watch out Google. Here comes Nissan. The Japanese car maker is showing at this week's Ceatec expo in Japan this car that can drive itself.
It's part of a concept that marries 4G LTE communications with the latest car technology and is intended to help with one of the most frustrating things a driver has to do: cruise around a packed car park looking for a space.
In the Nissan concept, the driver leaves his car when he arrives at his destination and the car finds a space to park.
Tooru Futami [cq], engineering director at Nissan's Electronics Engineering Development Division
"There are two important things we need for automatic driving. The first is a map. When the owner presses the "park in" button, the map comes from the cloud. The car drives using this map as a base and this car has four high-quality cameras. It analyzes the images in real time and attempts to determine its location, match that with the map, and drive."
All of the smarts to run such a system are hidden in the trunk of this Leaf, including two PCs and LTE data cards. It's the wireless data link that is perhaps most important, and the car relies upon it before it enters self-drive.
"When a smartphone sends an instruction to park, the instruction enters the cloud to the Nissan Global Data Center. There, a car health check is performed. The system decides if the car is OK to enter automatic driving mode. If everything with the car is OK, the automatic driving mode is enabled."
In a demonstration at Ceatec, the car drove at about 5 kilometers an hour while in automatic driving mode.
As a concept, it's still some way from commercialization but the large "2015" painted on the side of the demo cars is an indication as to when some of this technology may be available.