Automated driving is in our not-too-distant future, and our partners at ReadWrite learned what Nissan is doing to make our self-driving dreams a reality.
By Bradley Berman
It was an improbably futuristic scene: a man standing on a sunbaked tarmac in Irvine, CA, next to a Nissan Leaf electric car, pushed a button on the hatchback's key fob. The Leaf, unassisted by human intervention or preprogrammed maps, crawled at about five miles per hour through rows of parked vehicles, detected an SUV pulling out of a space, paused, and allowed the SUV to pull away. Then it moved past the now-vacated parking spot, slowed into position, glided back into the space, and powered down.
A moment later, the man pushed the button again, and the Leaf fetched itself, reversing its previous steps, and returned to the man's side.
This isn't science fiction. I watched this all myself, dumbfounded, just a little over a week ago.
Was this self-parking demonstration a bit of razzle-dazzle that will never make it into the vehicles in dealer lots? Maybe not.
To witness this scene, I drove 45 miles in a 2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan from LAX to the decommissioned El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. (That's where Nissan held its month-long Nissan 360 technology showcase.) The Q50 was equipped with the luxury car's $3,200 tech package, which pushes the nicely appointed vehicle's price over $50,000.
The relevant features of the teched-up Q50 are Intelligent Cruise Control and Active Lane Control. The technology allowed me to travel at highway speeds along short, straight stretches of interstates 405 and 5 with my foot off the pedals and my hands at my side.
Take that, Google! The search engine is investing an unknown amount in self-driving cars, and those prototypes have driven millions of miles. Google promises to offer the technology to consumers by 2018, but the Q50 is on sale today.
After the break, learn more about frickin lasers.