Steve Rousseau:

Nissan wants to put a bevy of autonomous systems into production vehicles by 2020. To catch a glimpse of the future, we take a ride-along in their semi-autonomous car.

The semi-autonomous car exists, but it hasn’t arrived, much in the same way Google Glass exists on a select few peoples’ faces but not on store shelves. Beginning with a DARPA-sponsored research contests just under a decade ago and popularized by Google’s self-driving Toyota Priuses, automotive manufacturers are quickly developing their own self-piloting systems and creating a flurry of autonomous features in various states of development and sophistication.

Just a few examples: A route-programmed Audi TTS climbed Pikes Peak in 2010. The German automaker debuted a self-parking system in the A7 earlier this year at CES. For highway driving, GM is testing Super Cruise—a system capable of lane centering and adaptive cruise control. Mercedes-Benz’s Distronic Plus With Steering Assist, available now in the S-Class, does virtually the same thing—although NHTSA regulations demand that you still need to keep your hands on the wheel at all times. Even tire manufacturer and auto parts supplier Continental is developing a system known as Emergency Steer Assist to automatically perform evasive maneuvers.