Nissan demonstrates its autonomous Leaf at CEATEC in Japan

Getting its semi-autonomous Leaf legalized in Japan was just the first step. Now, Nissan is giving demonstrations of what its fully autonomous car is capable of at this year's Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) show – Japan's equivalent to America's Consumer Electronics Show. To show off the possibilities of its technologies, Nissan had an oval track set up at the show giving rides in an autonomous Leaf to the media. Even Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Toyota CEO Akio Toyodo caught a ride.

Nissan has since released a couple videos of its CEATEC demos, with one designed to look like a news report. In this video, you can watch the car go around the track and navigate intersections and road hazards. The second video shows Ghosn riding in the car, and he hints that Nissan's goal of having an autonomous vehicle in production by 2020 might be more of a worst-case scenario. Watch both videos and read through Nissan's official press release below.



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The Car That Drives Itself: Nissan's Autonomous Drive

Oct. 4 – Makuhari, Chiba – We're at CEATEC Japan 2013 in a Nissan LEAF, but this will be one of the very first public demonstrations of Autonomous Drive technology in Japan.

Many people, including media, have already been driven around in the AD car, including the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda.

Now we're going to see how the AD vehicle handles – without actually having our hands on the steering wheel.

Safety is the main objective. Speed is calculated to match the width of the turn. Five cameras and five laser scanners are the all-seeing eyes of the vehicle, identifying signs and markers on the road, what to avoid, and in what direction to advance.

In these road-like scenarios, the car can yield to a vehicle and move around a stalled one – all by itself. Developing the perfect driver through technology, however, is no easy task.

Toru Futami, Expert Leader for Nissan's IT & ITS Development department, said this technology is much more complex than the driverless, automated valet park function that Nissan exhibited at CEATEC last year.

"There are not only other cars on the road, but also people and bicycles," said Futami. "Children might run after a ball rolling into the street. In these kinds of complex scenarios, there are many things that you need to be aware of. You also need to anticipate how the cars and people around you will move. Only when you can effectively do both, can you be sure you're driving safely."

Phoenix Satellite TV presenter Li Hui
Engineers and specialists, such as Futami, spoke with international and Japanese media crews who took rides for the debut.

Phoenix Satellite Television presenter Li Hui said she thinks the autonomous drive technology would be popular among women living in China and Hong Kong.

"In today's working-class China, more women are driving themselves to work, and on their journey in, they have a lot of things to do," says Li. "For example, putting on their makeup, eating breakfast, and so on. If such technologies were made available immediately in the Chinese market, a lot of people would appreciate it."

Not only easier, but safer, as Nissan aims for zero emissions and zero fatalities on the roads.

Nissan's Autonomous Driving technology won the Grand Prix at this year's CEATEC Innovation Awards. And through October 5th, the Autonomous Drive car will continue to take a spin around CEATEC, before finding more road traction in the months ahead.