Nissan is entering the highly controversial scene of autonomous driving, but it's doing so very carefully.
Amid all the turmoil stemming from the recent Tesla crashes involving autopilot technology for self-driving cars, Nissan is approaching the scene with extra caution. The automaker has a ProPilot system ready to launch, and it involves semi-autonomous driving technology.
The new Nissan Serena, set to go on sale in late August in Japan, will rock the company's ProPilot autonomous drive technology "designed for highway use in single-lane traffic."
"Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking that can be operated in full automatic mode, easing driver workload in heavy highway traffic and long commutes," notes the automaker.
Nissan further adds that its ProPilot system is very user-friendly, allowing the driver to activate or deactivate the system simply by pressing the dedicated button on the steering wheel.
The technology is semi-autonomous, which means that it still requires a driver to be present and alert at all times, with hands on the steering wheel and ready to take over should something go awry.
In the aftermath of the Tesla autopilot car crashes, Nissan acknowledges the risks of self-driving cars, but highlights that it's semi-autonomous ProPilot is not meant for use without driver assistance. If the system detects no hands on the steering wheel for four seconds, it will alert the driver.
Moreover, ProPilot will also involve extra caution when it comes to the elements. As Forbes reports, the system will not work when the wipers are on or when the vehicle is driving under 50 kph (31 mph) in order to ensure it's not affected by slippery or snowy roads.
The automaker further notes that it's "proactively working on vehicle intelligence and vehicle electrification," pushing forward with its goals to make "Zero Fatalities" and "Zero Emissions" a reality.
The Nissan ProPilot system will eventually reach more vehicles and more markets, with the Qashqai set to get the technology in 2017 in Europe. The automaker also plans to introduce the technology in the United States and China.
As previously mentioned, the technology is currently for single-lane driving. Nissan plans to introduce multi-lane autonomous driving in 2018, which will enable automatic lane changes, while autonomous driving in intersections and on urban roads should follow in 2020.
Autonomous driving technology is gaining ground and making notable advances, with big players joining the race and making notable progress. One notable contender in the self-driving car scene is Google, which also has a different approach compared to Tesla.
— Nissan Motor (@NissanMotor) July 13, 2016