The most exciting part of the technology in driverless cars will be the one spent in the extra two hours drivers will gain per day when they no longer have to sit behind the wheel, the chief executive of Renault-Nissan said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Reuters at the Web Summit being held this week in Lisbon, Carlos Ghosn said the extra two hours - the average time spent by drivers behind the wheel worldwide - will open an entire new world of technological possibilities.
"The most exciting technology is the combination of connected (cars) and autonomous (driving)," Ghosn told Reuters. "Now the car becomes a mobile space, connected, where you can have a video conference, see a movie, talk to your kids or consult your doctor."
Technology for driverless cars was one of the hottest topics at the Web Summit, which is one of Europe's biggest gatherings of technology startups.
Ghosn said driverless cars are already a reality as the first models offering single-lane, autonomous driving on motorways already exist.
Subsequent "waves" of autonomous driving are likely to include multiple-lane highway driving in 2018 and then the technology for autonomous driving in cities should be ready by 2020, he said. "Then, after 2020 you'll have the driverless cars, the cars without the driver," he said. He expected fully driverless cars to come only much later as the technology to make them a reality needs to be completely flawless and regulation will take longer.
Ghosn would not give any details of the decision by Nissan to build two new models in Britain despite the country's vote to leave the European Union.
"I can say I feel comfortable with the decision," he said, adding that it was a decision taken after long discussion and talks with the British government.
He would not elaborate on what those talks involved, saying only "it's up to them (the British government) to tell you."