2018 LEAF will drive itself – partially
Autonomous cars are the new thing. Cars that park themselves. Adaptive cruise-control that maintains a safe following distance between cars. The ability for cars to stop before running into the car that stops abruptly in front of them. Many of these technologies have made their way into everyday automobiles that the average person can actually afford. Nissan has announced that the 2018 Nissan LEAF will be available with their ProPILOT Assist technology. The 2018 LEAF will be revealed in early September and this technology takes it to the next level by providing single-lane driving assistance. Here we take a closer look.
Nissan has actually been working on autonomous cars for quite some time. In early 2013 I wrote an article about Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center expansion to develop a greater ability to analyze autonomous cars and their development. Later that year, Nissan put Japan’s first ever self-driving car on public roads for testing. At that time, Nissan stated their goal of having multiple commercially-viable autonomous drive vehicles available by 2020. So with the introduction of this technology to the US market later this year, they are on their way to achieving this goal. But this isn’t Nissan’s first ProPILOT Assist vehicle available to drivers. That honor belongs to the humble Serena minivan in the Japanese domestic market.
While the Serena may not look like much, it offers some of the most advanced technology available to today’s driver. And if you stop to think about it, what better vehicle to offer advanced safety features than a people hauler that likely has your kids in the back. Launched in 2016 in the Japanese market, Carlos Ghosn has said that 60 percent of Serena customers have opted for the technology. Also, LEAF is not the only vehicle expected to offer the self-driving technology – the European Qashqai (known as Rogue Sport in the US) will offer ProPILOT with the 2018 model year. That’s a pretty strong indication that we could see it make a stateside appearance on that model before long. So what does this feature actually do?
Here’s a look at a Nissan ProPILOT infographic:
In other words, ProPILOT takes much of the drudgery out of the daily commute for many Americans. Automatically slowing down with traffic, including stopping and then taking off again in stop-and-go traffic. Following bends in the road without needing your input. You know, all the stuff that’s hard to do while you’re texting your buddy from work while you should be driving.
As you can see at the bottom of the graphic, Nissan has plans to broaden the scope of the technology in the coming years. Stay tuned.