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Driverless cars: From Hollywood to real world

By CNN wire staff
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
  • Carlos Ghosn says Renault-Nissan is targeting an autonomous vehicle within the next decade
  • Driverless cars have appeared in a number of sci-fi movies including Hollywood hits I, Robot and Minority Report
  • Ghosn said some of the technology needed for a driverless car is in the Nissan's new Qashqai model

(CNN) -- A decade ago, they zoomed down the futuristic highways of science fiction film Minority Report. Now, driverless cars may be coming to the roads of the real world.

Driverless cars have long been the realm of fantasy, but the boss of one of the world's largest auto makers says they could hit showrooms within the next 10 years.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault-Nissan, told CNN's Max Foster that the company is targeting a "totally autonomous" car by 2020.

Read more: Euro pioneer: Europe would have suffered without single currency

Ghosn said that a car with artificial intelligence would be "a huge advantage," allowing people to use the time saved in commuting to be more productive.

"People on average in the world spend two hours in a car per day," he said. Ghosn added that consumers will be able to use the commute to teach their children or consult with their doctor while being chauffeured around in their cars.

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The self-driving car has been a staple in Hollywood blockbusters as a symbol of an advanced society in a futuristic world.

This month Nissan took the first step towards autonomous vehicles by unveiling the latest version of its Qashqai Crossover in London.

Ghosn with Nissan's Qashqai Crossover.

And Ghosn said some of the technology needed for a driverless car is in the new model.

"This is not a car with autonomous driving," he said, "[but] there are plenty of small features which will be at the base of autonomous driving to help you avoid an accident."

Read more: Europe feeling the economic winds of change

In Nissan's pursuit of a driverless car, the company has outlined two key pillars; zero emissions and zero fatalities.

Headlights that dim automatically, fitted cameras to maintain distance from other vehicles and detectors to aid blind spots are just some of the features on the new Qashqai.

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Nissan plans to showcase its autonomous vehicle technology at the Tokyo Motor Show when it opens to the public on November 23.

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Qashqai sales are a rare glimmer of growth in a European car market that is trying to recover after the 2008 financial crisis.

"They are the number one most sold car in Europe, more than 240,000, presenting more than 30% of sales," Ghosn said.

Read more: Is Greece finally on the mend after economic crisis?

And the CEO, who heads the longstanding partnership between French Renault and Japanese Nissan, said the "systematic decline" of the European car market is now over.

In spite of Europe's decline, the Renault Nissan Alliance, which was formed in 1999, has continued with its 4 billion euro [$5.4 billion] investment in zero emission and electric vehicles.

"Europe has been through terrible years for the last five years," he added, "it doesn't look like it will continue to drop. The bad news is that if there is growth, it's going to be very small."

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this story

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