THERE is a tsunami-like wave of technology heading towards us from Japan that will change the way we drive forever.
It emanates from Nissan which has announced that its new Serena, scheduled to go on salein Japanin late August, will come equipped with the company's ProPILOT autonomous drive technology, offering convenience and peace of mind during 'highway mobility'.
ProPILOT is autonomous drive technology designed for general road use in single-lane traffic.
Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking that can be operated in full automatic mode, easing driver workload in heavy traffic and long commutes.
Employing advanced image-processing technology, the car's ProPILOT system understands road and traffic situations and executes precise steering enabling the vehicle to perform naturally.
The technology is claimed to be user-friendly, thanks to a switch on the steering wheel that allows the driver to activate and deactivate the system. There's also a driver display showing the operating status.
The accelerator, brakes and steering are controlled based on information obtained through a mono camera equipped with advanced-image processing software. The ProPILOT camera can quickly recognize in three-dimensional depth both preceding vehicles and lane markers.
Once activated, ProPILOT automatically controls the distance between the vehicle and the preceding vehicle, using a speed preset by the driver (between approximately 20 and 60mph). The system also keeps the car in the right place on the road by reading lane markers and controlling the steering, even through curves.
If a car in front stops, the system automatically applies the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop. After coming to a full stop, the vehicle will remain in place even if the driver's foot is off the brake pedal. When ready to resume driving, ProPILOT is activated when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator.
The system fitted on the Serena was developed especially for highway driving conditions in Japan, but watch out because it is on the way here.
Nissan has already announced that a version will be introduced into other vehicles, including the Qashqai in Europe in 2017.
There are also plans for the technology to be introduced in the U.S. and China. Nissan says it intends for a multi-lane autonomous driving system which will enable automatic lane changes to be ready for introduction in 2018 while autonomous driving on urban roads and at intersections is due for launch in 2020.