Renault-Nissan Alliance Team

Steering LEAF into tomorrow

We’ve probably all done it: let our mind wander when stuck in a stop-go traffic jam and failed to notice that the car ahead has stopped. Most times, a quick jab on the brakes does the trick and prevents an accident.

Sometimes, though, a driver doesn’t spot the problem until it’s too late. Which is why we developed Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCAA) as an integral part of the Nissan Safety Shield technology.

Using radar and software to scan the road ahead, FCAA works out if there’s an obstacle in the way and, if the driver doesn’t seem to have noticed, applies the brakes. Depending on speed and distance, an accident can be avoided altogether while even in the worst case, the impact will be minimised.

But what if we could drive around the obstacle? Well, we’ve got the answer to that, too. A newly developed technology called Autonomous Emergency Steer (AES) was recently shown to the press. AES applies not just the brakes but also steers the car around an obstacle to help avoid a collision. And it does it automatically.

Once again using radar, camera and laser scanners, AES establishes if a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone and, if all is clear to the left or right, tells the driver which way to steer.

If the driver fails to react, then the system takes over steering the car around the obstacle… all this happens in a split second. The system can even help avoid a collision if an oncoming vehicle crosses into your lane.

A new steering system developed by Nissan’s boffins has also been introduced last week; it uses next generation steering technology to read a driver’s intentions from steering inputs and controls wheel direction via electronic signals. It’s much quicker than current mechanical systems and increases steering ‘feel’ by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver.

Significantly, this ‘next generation’ steering technology could be available as early as next year.

Journalists from Wired magazine recently had a chance to see both systems in action. See their report here.



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