Nissan Stages World Debut of Backup-Collision-Prevention System

Backup accident prevention is one of two new technologies in the auto maker’s All-Around Collision Free prototype displayed in the U.S. for the first time in conjunction with the ITS world congress.

Herb Shuldiner

November 21, 2008

2 Min Read
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NEW YORK – Demonstrating its backup-collision-prevention technology for the first time, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. unveils a key component of its vehicle-to-vehicle safety program at the 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems here.

On a pier located adjacent to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center where the ITS show is taking place, an Infiniti vehicle backs out of an obscured parking place as rear- and side-mounted sensors detect an approaching vehicle. In quick succession, the system sounds an alarm and then automatically applies the brakes when the driver fails to do so.

The action takes milliseconds, quick enough to prevent a rear-end collision. But it would not prevent a collision if an oncoming vehicle were traveling as fast as 25 mph (40 km/h), admits Mitsuhiko Yamashita, an executive vice president and member of the Nissan board of directors.

Backup accident prevention is one of two new technologies in the auto maker’s All-Around Collision-Free prototype displayed in the U.S. for the first time in conjunction with the ITS congress.

The other is a lane-departure-prevention system that not only warns the driver when drifting into another lane occupied by another vehicle in a blindspot, but also nudges the first vehicle back into its lane to prevent a collision.

Nissan engineers accomplish this by using part of the vehicle-dynamic control and yaw-control systems that engage the brakes on the opposite side of the vehicle to tug it back into a safe lane.

Yamashita says these systems could be in series production in the not-too-distant future, with luxury cars offering the features first. “It will be challenging to accomplish in five years.”

Nissan also demonstrates a red light collision-warning system that not only sounds an alarm, but also automatically applies the brakes if a driver fails to do so when approaching the signal.

The system is able to communicate with the signal, itself, to determine the timing of the color and phase of the light. An onboard computer then calculates the speed of the vehicle to determine when it will arrive at the intersection. If the computer determines an accident could occur, it initiates a warning and brakes to prevent a crash.

Whether such systems eventually will take complete control of a vehicle will be up to consumers, Yamashita says. Nissan also will have to determine if its customers are willing to spend for increased electronic systems that take more decisions away from drivers.

Also, the auto maker will have to determine if car buyers will pay for such systems. Yamashita says many customers still want the freedom to control their vehicles, rather than surrender such functions to computers.

“We should keep the pleasure of driving for car owners,” he says. “Others should go to public transportation.”

Yamashita predicts intelligent transportation systems will grow in use and become more affordable in coming years.

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