Nissan has announced the world premiere of their Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 concept which represents a stage in the company’s process to have an autonomous vehicle on the roads by the end of the decade.

The concept seen here is based on the first generation Leaf all-electric hatchback and has received a plethora of sensors which enable the EV to change lanes, merge onto and off the highway and even pass cars by itself, without the aid of human assistance. It’s all part of a technology package known as Piloted Drive 1.0 which has already commenced testing this week in Japan at the company’s Advanced Technology Center located south of Tokyo.

According to Nissan, the newly developed technologies will make the “occupants feel as though they were in the hands of a skilled driver.” The modified Leaf has dozens of sensors, 12 cameras, five radar sensors, four laser scanners as well as ultrasonic sensors, according to Tetsuya Iijima who is general manager of Nissan’s advanced driver assist systems strategy and engineering division. He mentions autonomous driving on the highway will be offered in Japan before the end of 2016 and will include a Manual Drive mode allowing the human driver to take control of the vehicle like in a conventional car.

We remind you Nissan has plans to show a new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show next week which they describe as representing their “future vision of car intelligence and electrification”, so it probably employs a full electric powertrain and some form of autonomous driving technology borrowed from the Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 concept.

Gallery: Nissan reveals Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 concept and plans autonomous vehicle launch by 2020

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