The eyes of the motoring world may be locked firmly on Paris, but it is at the CEATEC Japan 2012 event, also taking place this week, that Nissan has chosen to showcase an exciting new innovation.
During the event it will showcase autonomous driving with the NSC-2015 prototype (pictured), a modified version of the Nissan LEAF.
The car will use a remote monitoring system to recognise the surrounding environment thanks to an all-around view camera and 4G communications. It will be different from a system that uses a GPS to establish a car’s exact location because it will provide precise recognition of the surrounding environment: even when underground.
When the driver exits the NSC-2015 it will start to park itself automatically using instructions from the smartphone. It looks for a vacant parking space, identifies its surroundings and when it finds an open parking space it begins automated parking...
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Nice to have your car pick you up, but the autonomous setting I need today is:
When I am semi-hypermiling driving over 100 miles on a single charge, on that part of the trip on a two lane 55 mph speed limit highway, I spend a lot of effort watching behind me, to try to get those faster-moving vehicles that will overtake me, to be able to immediately pass me at a safe location. Nothing worse than when a vehicle slows down behind you, then goes into zombie mode, and continues to tailgate no matter how slowly (or fast) you drive, presenting a "rolling roadblock" to all other vehicles behind them.
So, after I spot a vehicle gaining on me from behind, I try to speed up or slow down to put that vehicle in just the right passing location, and at just the right speed differential (10-15 mph) so they will (almost always) make an immediate safe passing maneuver, at their own speed. Once you have a clear view behind you, you are free to (safely, without inconveniencing other drivers) minimize regen use ( to maximize efficiency) by allowing yourself some speed variable, ~42 to~50 mph in my case, on steep descents on this 55 mph speed limit highway.
Sadly, I may have a vehicle with a hypermiling-interaction-with-other-vehicle-autonomous-driving-program, before I have the fast charge locations on this highway, that would make the feature unnecessary...
9/21/13 edit. Title changed from "Nissan to introduce prototype" to "Autonomous driving LEAF, and the implications for BEVs."
12/24/16 edit: Title changed to "Autonomous vehicles, LEAF and others..."