Nissan recently launched their new Serena Minivan with semi-autonomous driving technology in Japan.
The new minivan is equipped with the latest Pro Pilot technology, a system exclusively designed by Nissan for their range of vehicles. The company in their statement claimed that it was the first ever model to hit the Japanese market with autonomous driving technology. While a lot of such models have already been out in the west, the technology is still in its early stages to the Asian buyers.
While it has a lot of features that allow the minivan to operate on its own without depending on inputs from a person, there are some practical issues which limits it from becoming truly autonomous. Nissan claimed that powered by the Pro Pilot technology, the new Serena van is capable of working on its own in a highway setup. It can maintain a speed ranging between 19 miles per hour to 62 miles per hour. A driver should be in the seat at all times. The representatives added that compared to the U.S. highways which require a much higher top speed, these levels are adequate for Japanese roads because of traffic conditions.
A preset distance can be programmed into the Pro Pilot mode. It will automatically maintain the said distance at all times and will continue to slow down the vehicle whenever required. Automatic emergency braking is part of the car which ensures complete safety for the passengers. Instead of totally relying on adaptive cruise control which sometimes fail to react to aggressive cars on road, Nissan has programmed it to use the pilot mode which allows it to instantly react and change lanes in the nick of the time.
The car is also capable of running through curves and slowly bringing it to a stop at a specified point. The only sensor the Pro Pilot mode in Nissan Serena uses is the front mounted camera which is why the company says it is meant only for the highway. In the future, by the year 2018 chances are Nissan might roll out multi-lane driving capabilities and will continue to improve the performance of the autonomous driving facility.
Nissan has planned big to allow the Serena minivan and other vehicles to be able to navigate intersections and streets. The update is set to be launched in the year 2020 which is a long way to go from now. Meanwhile, legal issues related to auto driving have to be sorted out.