Japanese car maker Nissan is joining the big league of Google and auto manufacturers working on the development of autonomous vehicles. The company is planning to have such self-driving cars ready by 2020.

The Nissan self-driving cars would begin to undergo road testing as of 2014 and the company is working with some of the world’s top universities to develop the best technology for its Autonomous Vehicles.

Nissan Self-Driving Cars Available by 2020

The technology is referred to as Autonomous Drive and according to the executive vice president of Nissan, Andy Palmer, the company has teamed up with researchers from Oxford, Stanford, MIT and the University of Tokyo to come up with a commercially viable self-driving system.

Nissan is planning to add the technology to several models, as part of the company’s two pillar strategy: no emissions and no fatalities. The Japanese company has already met the ‘no emissions’ goal of its strategy, due to the successful Nissan Leaf, which Palmer says is the best selling electric vehicle made so far.

Palmer also that self-driving cars can ultimately reduce and perhaps completely eliminate the risk of traffic accidents and number of casualties. He added that the Autonomous Drive technology will gradually be spread across the entire vehicle range within 10-12 years after launch, with the goal off offering clients self-driving cars at realistic prices.

The Autonomous Drive system will basically be an advanced version of the company’s Safety Shield, which is already in use with several models and relies on various sensors to monitor a vehicle’s surrounding area for potential hazards, alert the driver and even react if necessary.

The company is now building a test track in Japan for its Autonomous Vehicles and is expected to start testing the cars as of next spring. Nissan said it has already been developing and testing the technology for years.

Several car makers, including Audi and Toyota, are working on self-driving cars. Google too is developing a technology that would make vehicles autonomous and has already begun testing it. What do you think of Nissan’s plan? Can the Japanese car maker really design a fully-functional autonomous driving system by 2020?

[Image via Autoblog]