Nissan is set to introduce its first production vehicle featuring autonomous driving capabilities from August this year in Japan.
The Japanese-market Serena minivan will come equipped with a system Nissan calls ProPilot from August of this year, able to control the accelerator, steering, and brakes to maintain the car’s lane position while monitoring surrounding traffic.
A simple steering wheel switch is used to activate the system, which operates at speeds between 30km/h and 100km/h, selectable by the driver.
System status is displayed via an instrument cluster display. ProPilot relies on an electronic control unit, which takes information from a windscreen-mounted mono-camera with advanced image processing capabilities, and can control the throttle, steering, and brakes.
The system is capable of bringing the vehicle to a complete stop when following other traffic, and can be resumed either via the steering wheel button, or by pressing the accelerator lightly.
Nissan has made a rapid move from concept to reality, with its first, albeit more advanced, autonomous concept, the Leaf Piloted Drive first shown in October 2015, followed quickly by the IDS Concept, which packs in 12 cameras, four laser scanners, and five radar sensors.
While the ProPilot package of the Serena stops short of offering full autonomy, the system forms part of Nissan's Intelligent Mobility plan which aims to introduce vehicles capable of zero emissions and zero fatalities.
Although the ProPilot will only be available on the Serena in Japan initially, Nissan plans to introduce the system on other vehicles, including the Qashqai in Europe during 2017 before expanding to other models in China and the United states.
The current single-lane system will also have its capabilities boosted to incorporate multi-lane driving, including automatic lane changes by 2018, with urban road operation, able to comprehend intersections set to launch by 2020. At this stage Nissan has given no word on when, or even if, the ProPilot system will make its way to Australia.