Nissan Car Brakes Automatically to Avoid Collisions

A new safety system developed by Nissan ties together a car-mounted radar and computer to reduce the risk of collisions.

The "forward collision avoidance assist concept," which was demonstrated by the car maker this week at its research center in Japan, keeps a watch on the road ahead with a radar system mounted behind the car's front bumper.

When the system judges the car needs to decelerate, it sounds an audible alarm and gently pushes up the accelerator pedal up and smoothly applies partial braking. If the driver doesn't act and a collision becomes more likely it automatically applies harder braking and tightens the driver's seatbelt.

In a demonstration this week a Nissan Infiniti fitted with the system was driven directly towards a foam obstruction, formed to look like a car, at 60 kilometers per hour. At about 60 meters away the radar picked up the object and began trying to gently slow the car.

For the purposes of the demonstration, the Nissan driver didn't apply the brakes and with less than 10 meters to go before a collision the system applied emergency braking. The car came to stop about a meter from the obstruction.

Because the braking had been planned, and the seatbelts automatically tightened, the quick stop of the car wasn't accompanied by the sudden jerk that's typically felt when a driver slams on the brakes to avoid a collision.

Nissan said it will work at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, which is the highest yet for a forward collision avoidance system.

The technology has been designed to reduce both the likelihood of acollision with a car in front and getting hit by a car from behind. The gradual braking it applies in the early stages should give drivers behind enough warning to brake themselves thus avoiding a crash.

The technology is one of several developed by Nissan as part of a project that started in 1995 to cut by half the number of fatalities or serious injuries involving its vehicles by 2015.

Another new system, also unveiled this week, will soon begin appearing in cars and seeks to make low-speed accidents with pedestrians and animals less likely.

The "moving object detection" system builds on the Around View Monitor that is already installed into some Nissan navigation systems.

Around View Monitor feeds images from four wide-angle video cameras onto the car's navigation-system screen when parking maneuvers are being performed. The images provide a live image of the space around the car and are manipulated to appear as a bird's-eye view from above.

The new system monitors the video for signs of movement, such as pedestrians or animals, and sounds an alarm if movement is detected in the direction the car is moving. It's intended to supplement the driver's vision and provide additional awareness in places where visibility might be obscured, such as when backing out of a parking space.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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