You'd be hard pressed to find an auto manufacturer that isn't working day and night on autonomous driving technology. The latest to announce a big step forward is Nissan, which will be the first Japanese manufacturer to hit the market with an autonomous driving system to control steering, brakes and throttle on the highway.
Having previously put Japan's Prime Minister in an autonomous Leaf and teamed up with NASA to develop autonomous technology, Nissan is bringing it's ProPILOT system to consumers in the fifth-generation Serena minivan to be released at the end of August. Although the Serena is a Japan-only model, Nissan also plans to introduce ProPilot on the 2017 Qashqai in Europe.
Designed for single-lane highway driving, the system uses information gathered from a mono camera to recognize lane markings and other vehicles in three-dimensions. Taking into account the speed preset by the driver, the system will maintain a safe distance behind the preceding vehicle while steering to keep the vehicle's position in the center of the lane.
It will also brake with the car in front and come to a complete stop if necessary. When the traffic moves on, pressing a button on the steering wheel or tapping the throttle turns it back on and the car takes control again.
Although the system is currently only intended for use in the single lane of a highway, Nissan says autonomous lane-change technology should arrive in 2018, and the company wants to have its cars autonomously tackling urban streets and intersections by 2020.