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Nissan to build Qashqai with 'auto-pilot' in Sunderland

The Nissan Qashqai crossover will be the company’s first vehicle in Europe to feature autonomous ‘Piloted Drive’ technology when it rolls off the line next year, Nissan announced today.

Produced at Nissan’s flagship manufacturing plant in Sunderland, UK, the Qashqai will be equipped with ‘Piloted Drive 1.0’ a feature that allows cars to drive autonomously and safely in a single lane in heavy traffic conditions on highways.

The company says thousands of hours of testing and multiple sensors on the car ensure that the system anticipates its surroundings correctly.

Nissan has already set out its commitment to launch a range of vehicles with autonomous drive capabilities by 2020, including vehicles that will be able to safely navigate city intersections.

During the next four years, Nissan says it will launch vehicles with increased autonomous capabilities like “multiple-lane control,” which can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. And by the end of the decade, Nissan plans to introduce “inner-city” autonomy, enabling vehicles to negotiate city cross-roads and intersections without driver intervention.

Making the announcement at the Geneva Motor Show, Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe said: “The Nissan Qashqai has always been a trailblazer in the market so it’s fitting that customers will get to experience the future of mobility in our award-winning crossover as early as 2017.

“It's a car people love. It's a car people trust. It pioneered the crossover boom, and now it will spearhead Nissan's move towards launching a range of vehicles with autonomous drive capabilities from 2017. Yet again, we are taking technology normally found in premium cars and making it accessible to millions of motorists.”

The Qashqai has been a big success for Nissan. In September 2015 the latest generation of the model became the fastest ever UK-built vehicle to smash the half-million production mark. Since production began in 2014, a second generation Qashqai has rolled of the line every 62 seconds at Nissan’s record-breaking Sunderland Plant.

“The introduction of Piloted Drive technologies will be an evolution not a revolution as the building blocks for this are already in place in many of our cars today through our Safety Shield Technology,” added Willcox.

“With the driver in control, we want to remove the pain-points of being behind the wheel, like navigating heavy traffic, to put the excitement back into driving.”