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Nissan Develops Bee-Inspired Biomimetic Car Robot Drive for Crash Avoidance

The BR23C Biomimetic Robot Car. Click to enlarge.

Based on joint research with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, engineers at Nissan Motor’s Advanced Technology Center have developed the Biomimetic Car Robot Drive, or BR23C. BR23C is a robotic micro-car that recreates bee characteristics with the goal of producing a system that prevents collisions altogether.

Nissan will unveil the project at CEATEC, Cutting-edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition, 30 September to 4 October at Makuhari Messe outside Tokyo.

BR23C is one of a number of new safety technologies that Nissan is developing as part of its Safety Shield concept—a proactive approach to safety issues based on the idea that cars should help protect people. The approach classifies driving risks and accidents into six stages. Nissan’s goal to halve the number of automobile accident fatalities or serious injuries involving its vehicles by 2015 compared to 1995.

The BR23C robotic car is positioned as the inner-most layer of this shield. We are expecting that this robotic car will support the development of future collision-avoidance technologies.

—Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Executive Vice President in charge of research and development

In flight, each bee creates its own oval-shaped personal space which resembles Nissan’s Safety Shield concept.

Bee’s compound eyes and detection of obstacle by LRF-technology. Click to enlarge.

The bee’s compound eyes—capable of seeing more than 300 degrees—allow it to fly uninterrupted inside its personal space. In order to recreate the function of a compound eye, engineers came up with the idea of a Laser Range Finder (LRF).

The LRF detects obstacles up to two meters away within a 180-degree radius in front of the BR23C, calculates the distance to them, and sends a signal to an on-board microprocessor, which is instantly translated into collision avoidance.

The split second it detects an obstacle, the car robot will mimic the movements of a bee and instantly change direction by turning its wheels at right angles or greater to avoid a collision. The biggest difference to any current system is that the avoidance maneuver is totally instinctive. If that was not so, then the car robot would not be able to react fast enough to avoid obstacles.

It must react instinctively and instantly because this technology corresponds to the most vulnerable and inner-most layer of our Safety Shield, a layer in which a crash is currently considered unavoidable. The whole process must mirror what a bee does to avoid other bees. It must happen within the blink of an eye.

—Toshiyuki Andou, Manager of Nissan’s Mobility Laboratory and principal engineer of the robot car project

BR23C maneuvering to avoid obstacles. Click to enlarge.

But unlike a bee, the car cannot deviate upwards or downwards or diagonally, only in two dimensions and only in the direction that the wheels can turn. In place of the infinite number of ways a bumblebee can avoid other bees, Nissan employed a rotation function, in addition to acceleration and deceleration as its car robot’s means of collision avoidance, Andou said.

Pivo 2 concept car.

Nissan earlier introduced a more conventional advanced All-Around Collision Free prototype that incorporates two new technologies: Side Collision Prevention and Back-up Collision Prevention. Incorporating the available Distance Control Assist and Lane Departure Prevention systems, the latest prototype vehicle further extends the Safety Shield concept to help protect the vehicle and its occupants from potential risks coming from multiple directions. Driver interaction, however, is required.

Nissan’s Pivo 2 electric car concept features the fully rotating cabin of the first Pivo concept, as well as four electric in-wheel motors than can turn through 90 degrees—allowing the Pivo 2 to drive sideways as well as forward. (Earlier post.)



"The split second it detects an obstacle, the car robot will mimic the movements of a bee and instantly change direction by turning its wheels at right angles or greater to avoid a collision."
Mix this driving style with the "socker mom on her cell phone" and watch out.



This collision avoidance will certainly stop and park the par if the driver tries to use a cell phone, had too much to drink, used drugs, drives too fast, crosses lands too often, etc. Of course, those events should be recorded to determind if the driver's permit should be removed or not renewed.

Hope that cars of the future will move sideways to ease and accellerate street parking.

Driver created, road accidents are currently one of the highest cause of death and injuries in many countries. Most drivers (even soldiers) would benefit from an automated assistant.


I favor the addition of an emote scanner to read the relative emotional state of the driver. This would avoid road enraged drivers, drivers who are depressed, drivers on too elevated an emotional high, outbursts of laughter, or people getting blubbery over the latest pop ballad. The need to screen drivers for emotional stability is just as important as collision avoidance. The less emotional - the safer the pilot.

W.C. Fields

Since collisions are bound to happen why not just design cars like 'bumper cars' at amusement parks in the first place.


The idea of fully automatic cars is very interesting - they main question being how safe do you / can you make it, and who pays for an accident.

Making a car that will brake every time something comes within 2M of it will not be very useful - you will end up getting rear ended all the time and taking too much space in traffic, so the algorithms need tuning, but that is what prototypes are for.

Next up is simply making a car that is "better" than drivers on the road - particularly old people, some of whom are awful drivers.

Then you could make a car that could drive on motorways, but not in towns, so the driver could sleep / read the paper on the motorway, but would have to be awake to take over. [ Fully automatic 40 ton trucks anyone? ]

The trick will be to make a car that is safe and can navigate through tricky situations without just stopping all the time.

Annie Bankss

"car that is safe and can navigate through tricky situations" If this happens, it would be like a Dream come True.


Save Our Planet


It seems that an automated high speed lane on a freeway is well within technical feasibility these days. Why not build a small fleet of mini-vans with ranging technology that maintains fixed, safe distance between vehicles? With navigation and programming, the vans move at 70-80 kph till they reach their exit where they're auto-guided back to street level operator controlled traffic.

Each van whizzing past a five lanes of grid locked traffic would emphasize LOMT Low Occupancy Mass Transit. Avoiding that grid lock is the envy of passenger vehicles - a pilot program of this kind would raise a lot of transit consciousness. Is anyone anywhere working on this yet?

Henry Gibson

Build a car system that is ocassionally and randomly testing reaction time and disabling the vehicle if there are too many failures could test for DUI sleepyness, cell phone use etc. at low cost. And yes! a lane of freeways should be automated and electricfied. ..HG..


With this type of technology, we could eliminate traffic lights and the backups and pollution they cause. Cars could just wiz through the intersections, narrowly missing each other at right angles, at high rates of speed. This would save tremendous amounts of time and energy, which could be better expended in the workplace. Workers would also be fully awake when the arrive for work.



"Cars could just wiz through the intersections, narrowly missing each other at right angles, at high rates of speed....Workers would also be fully awake when the arrive for work."

I like it. You made me laugh.

This approach would weed out control freaks with weak hearts. They would have a heart attack at every intersection.

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