PARIS, June 3 Cars that drive themselves could
be on the roads four years from now, provided red tape does not
get in the way, Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan
alliance, said on Tuesday.
Silicon valley companies have long pioneered "autonomous
vehicles", and Google tested one in Nevada in 2012.
German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz developed an S-class
limousine that drove in August without any driver input.
Renault has created the Next 2 prototype version of its Zoe
model which enables drivers to let go of the controls at speeds
below 30 kilometers per hour thanks to GPS positioning, cameras
and sensors, though a human must stay behind the wheel.
"The problem isn't technology, it's legislation, and the
whole question of responsibility that goes with these cars
moving around ... and especially who is responsible once there
is no longer anyone inside," Ghosn said at a French Automobile
The first cars could hit the roads in 2018 in the "pioneer
countries" of France, Japan and the United States, with
commercialisation starting across Europe in 2020, the CEO said.
An amendment to United Nations rules agreed earlier this
year would let drivers take their hands off the wheel of
self-driving cars. The change was pushed by Germany, Italy and
France, whose high-end carmakers believe they are ready to zoom
past U.S. tech pioneers to bring the first vehicles to market.
Provided the amendment clears all bureaucratic hurdles, it
would allow a car to drive itself, as long as the system "can be
overridden or switched off by the driver". A driver must be
present and able to take the wheel at any time.
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume, editing by William Hardy)