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Nissan of the future walks through London without hands

Automotive News
  • The Renault Nissan Alliance will have 10 models equipped with autonomous technology in 2020.
  • They will be available in Europe, USA, China and Japan.

Five radars, four laser scanners and 12 cameras record and guide the Nissan Leaf through the streets of London. Inside, a screen indicates the map where the car is walking while the on-board computer gives the lane change orders or where to exit the roundabout. On another screen, pedestrians occasionally appear, represented by yellow icons. It is they and not the driver, who control almost exclusively the movement of the vehicle.

During the London journey of about 10 kilometers, the driver, Tetsuya Iijima, global director of technological development in autonomous car Nissan, only places his hands on the steering wheel once, to dodge some works. Neither accelerates nor brakes. The vehicle drives alone, raffling through Victoria Street, turning in curves and overtaking the freeway to bewilder the occupants of the Nissan Leaf.

The Japanese engineer, who heads the stand-alone car test in London, explains the technique by moving his hands and tending to those at the rear. The sense of security, however, is virtually total.

With this tour, Nissan presents for the first time in Europe its practically autonomous ProPilot technology, after experiences in Japan and the USA. This Leaf that moves only by London is the prototype of systems that will arrive at the market in 2020, according to the forecasts of Nissan. The Renault Nissan Alliance will have 10 models equipped with this evolution of ProPilot technology in 2020, able to move autonomously in urban roads and intersections. They will be available in Europe, USA, China and Japan.

But before that, the new Nissan Qasqhai and Leaf will soon be outfitted with the first version of ProPilot, which allows them to drive autonomously by dual carriageway while still maintaining the same lane. This version already comes in the optional equipment of the Nissan Serena in Japan. In 2018, new models equipped with the following version will be on sale, the ability to drive independently by railcar with lane changes included.

The Japanese company invested 560 billion yen (4.6 billion euros) last year, 30% more than in 2015, in research and development, among others, ProPilot. “Autonomy is receiving a lot of acceptance. Sixty percent of the Serena sold since it was put on the market carry ProPilot, “says Iijima.

“93% of the accidents that occur in the world occur because of the driver. The commitment of Nissan is to reach the goal of zero emissions and zero accidents, “said Alexandra Talon, European manager of the brand. The directive explains that “each model will have its software adapted to the regional characteristics of the markets”. In addition, although it does not facilitate how much the final price of the vehicle will increase, Talon affirms that ProPilotserá “accessible”. “We are not a premium brand and we do not want this technology to be out of the reach of our customers,” the directive explains.

The vehicle stops at an unexpected traffic light, due to a reflection. Iijima takes control and reflects: “The next evolution is the communication with the infrastructures. So, the traffic light would tell the car to continue even if the sensors have deceived.”

SAM, the cloud learns to help drive

Iijima only took control of the autonomous vehicle during the test of the prototype Leaf to dodge works in a roundabout. But Nissan works so that it does not even take a human inside the car to make those decisions. Its research center in Silicon Valley works in collaboration with NASA to design a system of Constant Intelligent Mobility (SAM). SAM will allow cars to send the data of this unforeseen work, for example to a control center, where (now and yes) a person, a mobility manager, will give you the necessary instructions to get around that obstacle (or a jam) successfully.
But this information and its solution will be shared with the rest of the connected Nissan cars, in such a way and way that the vehicles will learn and make that decision alone with the next similar obstacle, without the need of the manager. Here is ethics that asks: what is the best decision? And who is responsible for it?

Noemi Navas -Londres – 03-03-2017 – CINCO DIAS (Translation Soft)

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