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Nissan begins testing piloted driving on both city roads and highway

Nissan has begun testing its first prototype vehicle that demonstrates piloted drive on both highway and city/urban roads. Nissan’s “Intelligent Driving” comprises features that will be introduced in stages, all toward achieving Nissan’s “Zero Fatality” goal of eliminating virtually all fatalities stemming from traffic accidents.

For Stage One, Nissan will offer “Piloted Drive 1.0” by the end of 2016 in Japan. Piloted Drive 1.0 allows for autonomous driving under heavy highway traffic conditions. By 2018, the company hopes to implement a multiple lane piloted drive that can conduct lane changes on highways. By 2020, Nissan will introduce a new technology that allows vehicles to successfully manage city/urban roads—including intersections—autonomously. Autonomous driving under congested city conditions, with all the variables, is a much more difficult problem than on the highway.


The prototype vehicle now entering testing will operate in actual traffic conditions on both the highway and city/urban roads to develop and further to enhance Nissan Intelligent Driving for public use. The vehicle is based on the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle and it is equipped with features including a millimeter wave radar, laser scanners, cameras, high-speed computer chips, and a specialized HMI (Human Machine Interface).

All of this helps allow the vehicle to operate in an autonomous manner on both highway and city/urban roads except for setting destination points into the navigation system. These tests are planned for Japan as well as overseas in the near future.


Nissan Piloted Drive Prototype Vehicle with radar, laser scanners and cameras identified. Click to enlarge.

Nissan has developed two technologies that can make piloted drive possible on city/urban roads. The first is the miniature, high-spec laser scanner. Currently in its prototype stages, the laser scanner determines the distance between the vehicle and its surroundings through the use of precise three-dimensional measurement that enables the vehicle to navigate routes in tight spaces.

The other new technology is an 8-way, 360-degree view camera system that allows for accurate routing decisions when driving through intersections and sharp curving roads.

The new prototype vehicle possesses both of these innovative features, facilitating smooth transportation through complex traffic environments.

Piloted Driving HMI. Nissan’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) for piloted driving comprises a number of new elements:

  • Piloted Drive Commander. Positioned on the center console, this device conducts various functions, such as shifting between Manual Drive mode (normal drive mode) and Piloted Drive mode (autonomous drive mode), automatic lane changes, and more.

  • Meter Cluster. The area fully adopts a Thin Film Transistor LCD screen to display vehicle information based on the vehicle’s driving mode and driving environment. EV drive information is displayed in Manual Drive mode, such as the speedometer, distance to empty, etc., For Piloted Drive mode, along with the EV drive information, the vehicle’s surroundings are displayed in a virtual 360-degree view during higher speeds, and front view for lower speeds.

  • Heads Up Display. When in Piloted Drive mode, the driving path, such as lane changes and intersections, is displayed in front of the driver.

  • Center Cluster. In order to observe the driving landscape during Piloted Drive, a virtual bird’s eye view is displayed on the large screen.



I want full auto.
I want a system which can drive me when I am asleep or drunk or reading a book or email.
I want a system which can call in a wireless human autopilot if it gets stuck in traffic (a likely case with AVs, certainly at the start).
I want a system where I do not have to have a driver's licence to operate it.

Semi auto is just a half measure - so I can take my hands off the wheel in heavy traffic or on a well marked motorway - big deal.

(Semi auto is pretty easy, full auto won't be easy at all.)
But it will be fun watching it evolve.
(And we'll lose a few people along the way, but in the medium and long term, it will be worth it).


The autonomous car can be the new designated driver.


Second and subsequent generations will have fully automated capabilities. It's just a matter of time required to fully test the technologies and modify-upgrade road and insurance regulations.

More forward looking areas may allow (restricted) automated drive by 2020/2025 or so.

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