Following up on last year's promise of self-driving cars by 2020, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn detailed the technologies that will make autonomous cars production-ready during a speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.
Ghosn said that by the end of 2016, Nissan will make fully automated parking, and a feature called Traffic Jam Assistant available in its vehicles. Traffic Jam Assistant lets the car drive autonomously in very slow or stop-and-go traffic. Ghosn did not specify whether the fully automated parking feature would require a driver in the car.
By 2018, Ghosn said Nissan will introduce "multiple-lane controls, allowing cars to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes". That feature may work in conjunction with adaptive cruise control, allowing a car to steer around slower traffic if adjacent lanes are clear.
The final feature to be released before full autonomy is something Ghosn called "intersection-autonomy", which would let cars negotiate city intersections without driver intervention.
Ford already makes automated parallel-parking systems available in cars such as the Focus and Fusion, and Mercedes-Benz has released its Steering Assist feature on the S-Class and E-Class, which drives the car autonomously in heavy traffic. Earlier this year, Google demonstrated an autonomous car that can handle suburban driving, recognizing other cars and cyclists.
The technologies Ghosn mentioned for 2018 make up the final steps toward fully autonomous vehicles.