Partnerships with Microsoft, NASA and DeNA blur the lines between mechanical and digital.
As the worlds of cars joins the "internet of things" the lines between auto show and electronics show gets increasingly blurred. Case in point: CES's keynote speaker this year was a key figure in the auto industry, Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Ghosn delivered a grandiose vision of the future, identifying the three technologies of EVs, autonomous driving and connected cars as why "We will see more change in the next ten years than we did in the last fifty."
Nissan plans to help usher in this new world order via upcoming models like the next Leaf. The EV will come with Nissan's semi-autonomous ProPilot system, which can operate without human intervention at single-lane highway speeds. ProPilot was released last year on the Serena minivan in Japan.
Nissan also showed a new system, co-developed with NASA, called SAM (Seamless Autonomous Mobility), which will fill in the gaps when the on-board AI can't quite figure out what to do (for example, when construction or an accident blocks the road). In the first SAM-equipped car on the scene, the system sends images to a command center as the car pulls over. An actual human will assess the situation, and direct the car around the obstacle. The solution would then be propagated to other cars on that route.
Nissan is also partnering with Japanese internet company DeNA to unleash a fleet of autonomous delivery trucks in certain areas of Japan. Testing begins later this year in designated zones, and they hope to operate throughout Tokyo by 2020.
Lastly, Renault and Nissan's next generation of vehicles will integrate Microsoft's Connected Vehicle Platform, which will use Office 365, Cortana, and other cloud-based services. Cortana will behave as an in-car personal assistant, serving up reminders for appointments or entertainment options. Cortana's settings can vary depending on the driver in shared car situations as well.
In his speech, Ghosn rattled off some stats gathered from industry studies: 15 percent of new cars sold will be fully autonomous, 25 percent sold in urban areas will be electric, 25 percent of all miles traveled will be via shared mobility, and by 2025 all new cars sold will have some form of data-sharing connectivity. He believes, however, these estimates are "conservative."