Nissan has announced the launch of its autonomous driving technology, ProPILOT. The technology sees its debut on the new Nissan Serena that launches in Japan in August, but it will be coming to Europe in 2017 on the Nissan Qashqai, bringing self-driving functionality to the masses.
The technology is being described as a driving assist function that incorporates self-driving features, rather than a fully self-driving system, but it has simplicity at its heart. ProPILOT is activated and deactivated via the dedicated button on the steering wheel and it will take care of steering, acceleration and braking, based on information obtained through a mono camera using advanced image-processing software.
The camera is able to recognise both preceding vehicles and lane markers in three dimensional depth. It will automatically control the distance between you and the preceding vehicle and maintain a speed set by the driver between 30kmph and 100kmph. ProPILOT will know if a car cuts in front of you and the preceding vehicle, as well as if the car in front moves lanes, adjusting itself accordingly.
As with all autonomous driving technology available, the driver's hands must remain on the wheel. Remove them and Nissan's ProPILOT will give you two warnings, after which it will deactivate so no dancing to your favourite song.
Currently, the technology is designed for motorway use in single-lane traffic so it's not possible to change lanes without the driver regaining full control. Nissan is expecting to introduce multi-lane support in 2018 however, along with urban and interchange capability by 2020.
ProPILOT's aim is to offer peace of mind to the driver, but the company is also trying to achieve zero fatality. Apparently 93 per cent of accidents are the result of driver error so by putting control in the hands of a machine instead, the company is hopeful this percentage can be reduced.
Nissan has yet to reveal how much the Qashqai with ProPILOT will cost or detail whether it will be an option or available as standard on the top-spec models. Either way though, with the current top-spec Qashqai costing around the £27000 mark, Nissan is certainly leading the way for making autonomous driving more accessible.
You can read about our driving experience with Nissan's ProPILOT here.