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Here are the most important parts of Nissan's CES 2017 keynote

TL;DR: Autonomy, AI, Cortana and a semi-autonomous Nissan Leaf.


Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn took the stage here at CES 2017 to discuss Nissan and the general automotive landscape. During this keynote, he announced several steps his company will take in the future to advance its idea of mobility. Here are the important bits:

A new Nissan Leaf

Carlos Ghosn finally gave out some details regarding the next-generation Nissan Leaf. It will come with the semi-autonomous ProPilot system, which is currently in the Japanese-market Nissan Sirena.

Ghosn also stressed Nissan's dedication to using the Leaf for energy distribution. He talked about electric vehicles that can supply power to homes, buildings or even the grid itself. When Nissan's new European HQ opens, it will be partly powered by vehicle-to-building and vehicle-to-grid tech.

AI and self-driving cars

Nissan plans to launch a system it calls Seamless Autonomous Mobility. It's a workaround solution for what to do when the first generation of true autonomous cars encounter situations they may not be able to handle.

Its autonomous cars would be linked to a command center. If the car encounters a problem -- say, a roadblock where police are using hand signals to reroute cars over double yellow lines -- the car pulls over and signals to the command center that it needs help.

An actual human (called a mobility manager) in that center will look at vehicle images and sensor data to determine how to handle it, and the car will be under the manager's control until the manager leaves it to its own devices, pun intended.

As these calls continue to come in, the SAM system learns how the managers react to certain situations, and eventually, a SAM car would be able to broadcast those solutions to other cars, eventually creating an autonomous path through or around a given situation.

SAM is impressive, but it's still way ahead of where Nissan's autonomous development currently is.


Driverless commercial vehicles

Nissan plans to team up with Japanese internet business DeNA to test driverless commercial vehicles through the remainder of the decade. By 2020, it hopes to expand that testing to incorporate driverless technology in Tokyo-area mobility services.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will provide the vehicular know-how, while DeNA will be in charge of user experience.

The alliance is taking a four-step approach to introducing autonomy. The first stage is ProPilot, which keeps the car in its lane on the highway. Step 2 uses multiple highway lanes, Step 3 brings autonomy into urban environments and the final stage is, of course, true driverless vehicles.

Here's another ProPilot picture. I'm really milking these things for all they're worth.


Cortana in the car

Nissan will continue to develop its partnership with Microsoft with the goal of launching new connected services and applications.

It will use Microsoft's Azure to offer over-the-air updates, predictive maintenance and advanced vehicle navigation. It will also make use of Cortana to create a more intuitive voice-recognition experience, as well as adding personalized driver settings in owned and shared vehicles alike.

Sounds like a lot, right? It definitely is. But Nissan's plan makes it clear that the company intends to go whole-hog into autonomous vehicle development. It'll take time, but having it correct the first time beats being the first to do it.

Finally, a picture that's relevant!