Nissan ProPilot Assist to Make Highway Driving Easier in the U.S.
Moving one step closer to autonomous driving, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist reduces the stress of highway trips by controlling acceleration, braking, and steering within a single lane. The system has undergone more than 50,000 miles of testing on roads across the U.S., and it’s set to debut on the next-generation Nissan Leaf that launches this September.
Ahead of the launch, Nissan is giving us a clearer indication of how the feature works. To activate ProPilot, the driver pushes a blue button on the right side of the steering wheel. Next, the driver must activate the Intelligent Cruise Control feature once the desired speed is reached. When icons on the instrument panel turn green, steering assist is engaged. The steering feature may deactivate if the system can’t detect lane markings, or in cases of inclement weather where the windshield wipers are in the low or high position.
The ProPilot system allows drivers to come to a complete stop for up to three seconds. If the stop lasts longer, drivers must press the resume button or tap the accelerator to move again. When the accelerator is pressed, the system goes into temporary standby mode, and during braking, both the cruise control and lane keep assist are deactivated.
Nissan emphasizes it’s important for drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. If the system doesn’t detect hands on the steering wheel, a warning will activate.
“It is a ‘hands-on’ driver assist system rather than a ‘self-driving’ feature,” Nissan clarifies.
Tuned specifically for U.S. roads, ProPilot uses forward-facing camera, forward-facing radar, sensors, and an electronic control module to help drivers navigate both light and heavy traffic situations. The feature launches later this year. Right now, it can only handle single-lane highway driving, but within two years, the system will be able to change lanes. Within four years, it will be able to handle steering, braking, and acceleration in the city. Looking forward, Nissan-Renault will expand the ProPilot feature with 10 new models to be launched by 2020 in Europe, Japan, China, and the U.S.
Nissan also announced an assisted parking feature destined for the new Leaf. That feature won’t be available in the U.S. for the 2018 model year, but it should arrive in the future.