At this point, the company is not collaborating with Google, which has received worldwide attention for its work on autonomous driven vehicles, including the so-called "Google car."
(Read more: America's best drivers: Go West, says study)
Nissan is building a test track in Japan specially designed to replicate the challenges self-driven cars will face in real world conditions. The company is estimating the cost of adding autonomous driven technology to a luxury sedan will only be $1,000.
Race for autonomous driven cars
Nissan is not the only automaker racing to build and sell self-driven cars: Ford, General Motors and Toyota are also developing technology that would allow cars to steer, brake and accelerate with little or no interaction with the driver.
(Read more: Does Nissan risk losing business in 'Datsun' move?)
A handful of states have already passed laws establishing guidelines for testing autonomous-driven in real world conditions.
Still, few expect self-driven cars to roll out in big numbers in the near future.
While Ghosn canceled his appearance in Irvine, he did issue a statement about developing autonomous driven vehicles: "In 2007 I pledged that—by 2010—Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle. Today, the Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric vehicle in history. Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it."
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.