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Nissan and Renault cars will be able to change lanes autonomously from 2018 (Photo: Nissan)

Carlos Ghosn reaffirmed his commitment to have "a complete package of autonomous drive technologies" on Renault and Nissan vehicles by 2020, but repeated his expectation that driverless cars are at least a decade away.

The Renault-Nissan CEO said, in a piece written for LinkedIn, that his two car brands will in 2018 introduce technology that allows vehicles to change lanes and negotiate hazards autonomously. By 2020, he said, Renault and Nissan plan to start marketing cars that can operate without driver intervention "in nearly all situations."

Full autonomous driving is much further in the future, Ghosn said. "I expect the technology will be perfected well before it hits the  street, because there are a host of regulatory, legal and security issues that must be addressed first."

The Renault-Nissan chief said the safety gains that can be realised by relying less on the driver are the main advantage of the autonomous driving. But he also cited other benefits.

"This really is going to result in a big change in how we approach mobility," Ghosn said. "It will make our cars smarter, it will expand our ability to get around as we grow older, and above all, it will make driving far safer."