Nissan’s new Serena van that will go on sale in Japan is debuting fresh self-driving technology from the company.
The system, called ProPILOT, is described by Nissan as an “autonomous drive technology designed for highway use in single-lane traffic.” The system will handle steering, acceleration and braking when in full autonomous mode, activated by a switch on the steering wheel. Nissan says that ProPILOT will come to the U.S., though a timeline was not offered.
An advanced-image processing system allows the Serena to view its surroundings to make sure a safe distance is maintained behind the vehicle ahead, and to read the lane markings to keep itself in the center of the lane. ProPILOT is also able to bring the vehicle to a full stop in traffic and will hold it there until the driver lightly presses the accelerator or hits the switch on the steering wheel.
While Nissan says the system will handle these driving duties, the brand still wants to be clear that the driver’s hands need to be on the wheel. If no steering input is sensed on the wheel, a warning light will come on and after a few seconds of no driver input the system will switch off. Executives at Nissan stressed that each automaker is responsible for making sure drivers understand that they are still responsible for controlling the vehicle.
The technology will arrive in Japan this summer, with Nissan saying that the Qashqai crossover in Europe will get ProPILOT in 2017. Nissan says that the system will also be introduced into the U.S. and China but didn’t specify when it would arrive. Before it launches, Nissan will carry out studies in each region and will tailor ProPILOT’s setting for each market, to best suit its needs. On the Serena, ProPILOT was designed specially to cope with highway driving conditions in Japan.
Nissan is planning to expand its self-driving technology with a multi-lane autonomous setup that will enable automatic lane changes, to be introduced by 2018. By 2020, Nissan plans to have its self-driving cars handling the decisions in cities and through intersections.
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