Autonomous driving or having your car move you around in autopilot mode is still something new -- but this has not stopped companies like Tesla and their Model S from taking up such a mantle. Nissan of Japan, too, has jumped aboard the autopilot bandwagon, calling it the ProPILOT. Nissan's ProPILOT is a highway self-driving system that is all ready to see action in the Land of the Rising Sun later this August.
The ProPILOT autonomous driving system is all set to debut in Nissan's production vehicle next month, where ProPILOT will work in single-lane highway driving situations. The new Nissan Serena would be the first vehicle that will exhibit the ProPILOT feature, and being able to ferry a fair number of people around, such a careful, baby step is always welcomed by consumers. After all, on a single-lane highway, there would be far less issues to tackle such as changing lanes and checking one's six when doing so.
Nissan does not intend to get into nasty legal wrangles in the event that something unfortunate happens with the ProPILOT feature involved, which is why the Japanese firm is crystal clear when it comes to detailing just what ProPILOT is all about, as well as its limitations.
Nissan has expressly noted that ProPILOT is good only for single-lane highway travel, where it will have control over the steering, acceleration and braking. Not only that, it has been specially designed to see action only under heavy traffic conditions, and when the going is slow, or perhaps in extended commutes.
This makes plenty of sense since heavy traffic conditions can be rather tiring for the driver since one will have to constantly look out for brake points, as well as stop-and-go situations that adds to the overall stress. The ProPILOT should be able to get you to your destination stress-free under such conditions, and in the unfortunate event of a fender bender, slow speeds would most probably mean you do not have to fear or worry too much for your life.
ProPILOT is able to manage the distance between your car and any leading car automatically, as long as the speeds hover between the magic 18 mph to approximately 60 mph mark. Apart from that, it will ensure that the car remains in the lane all the time thanks to a monocular 360-degree camera system which will be on constant communication with the integrated processing system. Mobileye is the one that offers this processing system, powering Tesla's Autopilot in addition to BMW's drive-assist feature, not to mention a similar feature in select GM and Volvo vehicles, as it keeps a keen eye out for lane markers and the ride in front.
ProPILOT can also fully stop when the vehicle in front stops, and in order to resume driving, direct driver input is required. This means you cannot read a newspaper leisurely but will still need to give your fair bit of attention, although it should be relatively stress-free in slow moving traffic.
Nissan intends to see more autonomy granted in the future via staged feature releases, such as lane switching capability in highway conditions when 2018 rolls around, while ProPILOT will gain additional capabilities to handle city driving in 2020 if all goes well.
Of course, we are keeping our fingers crossed that there will not be any injuries or loss of life involved when the Nissan ProPILOT is in full swing. Tesla's autopilot feature failure in the Model S has already resulted in the first death recently, but then again, it is still in beta, with over a billion miles required to get clocked before it is deemed ready for the masses.