Testing on the first of Nissan’s prototype vehicles that were built with autonomous driving technology has just begun in Japan. Nissan wanted to know how well it works on both the highway and in the trickier inner city roads.
A sustainable mobile society – this is Nissan’s vision for the future. The automaker defines this as being able to achieve two of its targets -- "Zero Emission" and "Zero Fatality."
What the company means with Zero Emission is that there should be no CO2 gases emitted from its vehicles while Zero Fatality aims to make fatalities due to road accidents a thing of the past.
To make Zero Fatality a possibility, Nissan’s answer is a type of vehicle Intelligence that’s very advanced and consists of different innovations presented in phases.
By the end of the year 2016, Stage One – to be known as Piloted Drive 1.0 -- will be offered in Japan. This is activated during heavy traffic in the highway. And in 2018, Nissan aims to have piloted drive that can maneuver between multiple lanes on the highways.
A major jump will be seen by 2020 as vehicles will be able to autonomously manage city roads, even past intersections. Ultimately, this vehicle is intended for the public to use. This is why testing of this prototype will be done in real traffic situations in highway and urban roads.
The results will help improve Nissan Intelligent Driving. Founded on the principles of the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, this prototype has sophisticated features, which include a millimeter wave radar, cameras, laser scanners, a specialized HMI (Human Machine Interface), and high-speed computer chips.
These are all useful for the vehicle to be able to autonomously function on roads. What it doesn’t do yet is to travel to certain locations as they’re logged into the navigation system. Very soon, the tests will be conducted overseas too. In particular, two breakthrough technologies were developed by Nissan to make piloted driving a possibility in city roads.
One is the small high-spec laser scanner, which figures out how far the vehicle is from its surroundings. It uses highly accurate 3D measurement that allows the vehicle to drive through narrow spaces.
The laser scanner is still a prototype though. The second technology that’s necessary for autonomous driving is an 8-way camera system that has a 360-degree view. This makes the routing decisions at intersections and when traversing sharp curves.
With these innovations, the occupants of the prototype vehicle get a sense of being driven by a competent driver as the car is smoothly driven through twisted traffic.
Takao Asami, Nissan’s senior vice president, said that the brand has established “clear goals” as it readies for the eventual use of piloted drive. He also talked about how close the company is in achieving its goal of safe and easy motoring as well as of being the leader in this technology.