With all of the issues surrounding Tesla and its Autopilot system, one may expect automakers to shy away from semi-autonomous driving systems, but Nissan is carefully wading into this pool.
Recently, Nissan announced that it is releasing its first-ever semi-autonomous system, dubbed ProPilot, in Japan this August. This system, while not as advanced as Autopilot, does share many of the basic functions.
Nissan designed ProPilot for single-lane highway use, so no auto lane changing like Autopilot. This system, which will see initial use in the Serena minivan, will use a mono camera with advanced image-processing software to control the accelerator, brakes, and steering.
The driver can engage this system at normal cruising speeds between 19 and 62 mph, and ProPilot automatically adjusts the distance between the Serena and the car in front of it. It also uses its mono camera and electronic power steering to keep the car in the center of the travel lane. If the car in front of the Serena comes to a complete stop, ProPilot will stop the vehicle and remain active. Once the stopped vehicle accelerates again, the driver only needs to touch the ProPilot switch again or tap the accelerator to resume.
Nissan understands that people will have the urge to abuse this system and let it handle all the driving for them. According to Bloomberg, the automaker’s executive vice president, Hideyuki Sakamoto, warns, “the point is it’s not fully autonomous driving, but driver assistance technology, so it can’t handle everything for you.”
Nissan plans to continue building on this technology, including spreading it to other models, adding auto highway lane changes by 2018, and adding urban navigation by 2020.
While plans are to bring this technology to the U.S., there is no firm game plan in place for its release here, so stay tuned for updates.