According to Nissan’s driverless-car program lead scientist, the automakers that foray the new segment’s birth need to bring an industry shift to become successful.

Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center in Sunnyvale, California, thinks the companies implicated in the development and research of the future self-driving cars need to concentrate on both traditional mechanical engineering aspects, but also as much on software design.

“What the auto industry has to come to is a shift from thinking about the car as a physical, mechanical system,” Sierhuis said on the sidelines of the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco. “Autonomy, autonomous systems, is about understanding how humans do that, and then replicating it with software.”

“It’s a matter of also understanding the roads, understanding the situation, understanding other objects and knowing what to do with that information,” he added. “To plan your path around it needs deliberation — A.I. thinking.”

The benefits stemming from such automated-driving cars are numerous, according to the companies involved: traffic accidents and congestion could be avoided altogether or at least dramatically reduced and mileage could improve. Additionally, the people that spent their time driving could use it for other – maybe more productive – activities. Among the companies involved in the race we can find tech giants like Google, automotive suppliers like Continental or traditional carmakers like Nissan, Toyota or Daimler.


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