Nissan’s ProPILOT self-driving system to launch in Japan next month


Nissan has revealed that its new semi-autonomous driving system will be fitted to the all-new fifth-generation Serena minivan, which is scheduled to go on sale in Japan at the end of August, with the technology introduced on the Qashqai SUV in Europe in 2017.

ProPILOT is a revolutionary autonomous drive technology designed for highway use in single-lane traffic. With the introduction of the ProPILOT system, Nissan becomes the first Japanese auto maker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking actions that can be operated in full automatic mode, with the technology aimed at easing the driver’s workload in highway traffic and on long commutes. Employing advanced image-processing technology, ProPILOT understands road and traffic situations, and executes precise steering maneuvers, enabling the vehicle to perform naturally, as if controlled by a human driver. A switch on the steering wheel allows the driver to easily activate and deactivate the ProPILOT system, offering a fit-to-drive interface with a personal display showing the current operating status.

The accelerator, brakes and steering functions are controlled automatically by the system, based on information that is obtained through a mono camera equipped with advanced image processing software. The ProPILOT camera can quickly recognize in three-dimensional depth mode both preceding vehicles and lane markers. Once activated, ProPILOT automatically controls the distance between the vehicle and the preceding vehicle, using a speed preset by the driver, between approximately 18mph (30km/h) and 62mph (100km/h). The system also keeps the car in the middle of the highway lane by reading lane markers and controlling steering, even through curves. ProPILOT automatically applies the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop. After stopping, the vehicle will remain in place even if the driver’s foot is off the brake pedal. When ready to resume driving, ProPILOT is activated when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator.

Nissan is proactively working to make its corporate visions of ‘Zero Emissions’ and ‘Zero Fatalities’ a reality. Under Nissan’s ‘Intelligent Mobility’ banner, and as part of the auto maker’s ‘Intelligent Driving’ program, the ProPILOT technology is intended to promote safety and instill confidence in drivers. The ProPILOT system will be introduced into other Nissan vehicles in the near future, and there are also plans for the technology to be introduced in the US and Chinese markets. A multi-lane autonomous driving technology will enable automatic lane changes on highways and is planned for introduction in 2018, while fully autonomous driving on urban roads and at intersections is planned for launch in 2020.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).