Nissan recently launched it’s fifth-generation Serena in Japan, and besides the bevy of upgrades that the automaker has no doubt furnished the 7-seater MPV with in this newest iteration, a most notable addition is their new ProPilot autonomous driving system.
The software and hardware suite makes its debut on the all-new Serena, and would allow the vehicle to accelerate, steer, and brake on highways without intervention from the driver.
Primarily, the system uses a special camera mounted on the top of the windshield to survey the road ahead. These ‘eyes’ allow the on-board computer spot obstacles ahead as well as distinguish road direction, lanes, and other features a driver would need to be aware of when behind the wheel.
Once engaged, the system requires the driver to touch the steering wheel in intervals to keep it running. ProPilot is activated via a switch on the Serena’s steering wheel, which itself is equipped with a torque sensor to know whether the driver is gripping it or not.
Before using it, the driver would have to set the cruising speed – anywhere between 30km/h and 100km/h – and aside from that is free to take his or her hands off, letting the car do its own driving.
The system will keep the car centred within the lane markings and follow the car ahead at a safe distance while maintaining its maximum pre-defined speed, making steering adjustments, manipulating the accelerator and brakes as needed.
In the event of an emergency, ProPilot can bring the Serena to a complete stop. However, once this has occurred, it requires the driver to take back control momentarily until it is safe for the system to reengage.
The next vehicle to receive ProPilot augmentation will likely be the Qashqai, where the Japanese automaker hopes to have the system spread broadly across European markets. Nissan, however, is not planning on making the Serena available in Australia, so we’ll likely have to wait until the technology trickles down to models that are soon to receive the new autonomous system – like the Qashqai.