Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist reduces stop-and-go driving by helping control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway travel.
Advanced technology isn’t limited to just high-end luxury vehicles. Nissan proves this by offering their ProPilot Assist on lower-priced mainstream vehicles such as the 2018 Nissan Rogue and the 2018 Nissan Leaf EV. ProPilot Assist is designed to ease driver workload by automatically providing braking, steering and acceleration control while driving on lane-marked roadways.
ProPilot Assist is the foundation for future autonomous vehicles and is activated by the press of just two buttons. First, the driver presses the ProPilot button on the steering wheel to turn the system on. Then, the driver sets the vehicle speed with the press of the set button for the adaptive cruise control. The system then helps keep the vehicle centred in the lane and maintain a set distance to a vehicle ahead. While many manufacturers offer lane-keeping assist, the ProPilot Assist takes it to the next level.
When the set button is pressed, the gauge cluster will display a car symbol if there is a vehicle in front that the system has locked onto. If there is no vehicle in front, the car symbol with be an outline only. A steering-wheel symbol will appear when the system detects lane markings and the system is fully operational. ProPilot will maintain the set vehicle speed and if the vehicle in front slows, the ProPilot will also slow to maintain a set distance, all the way to a stop. If the vehicle in front moves away in less than three seconds, ProPilot will automatically accelerate the vehicle back to either the set speed or the speed of the vehicle in front. If the vehicle in front stops longer than three seconds, Pressing the resume button will engage ProPilot again.
For steering assist, the camera systems detect left and right lane markings and centre the vehicle in the lane using the electric steering. The system will follow smooth curves on a highway, but requires the driver to turn sharper corners. Although ProPilot can use the camera systems and electric steering to autonomously steer the vehicle, ProPilot is an assist system to “help” the driver because the driver is required to keep hands on the wheel while driving. A torque sensor on the steering detects very small driver inputs, so it knows the driver has hands on. If no hands on are detected, the system will give a warning beep. An increasing intensity of audible alarms are given if there are still no hands on detected, followed by a couple of quick brake pulses to wake a drowsy driver. Finally, the system will turn on the hazard lights, sound an emergency signal and brake the vehicle slowly to a stop.
ProPilot can be overridden by the driver at any time by simply turning the steering wheel, stepping on the accelerator or pressing the brake pedal. ProPilot is cancelled if the brakes are applied. Also, the system will not engage if the windshield wipers are in the low or high setting, but can operate if they are in intermittent operation. Basically, the system will not engage when the camera can’t detect lane markings.
When it comes to autonomous vehicles, there are six levels of operation from zero to five. Zero has no automation at all, while level five is fully autonomous driving. Several vehicles on the road are at level two, which requires the vehicle to be able to both drive and steer. Level three will do more, but still requires driver intervention.
Nissan’s ProPilot Assist is approaching level three and shows how autonomous driving will be someday be available to on all types of vehicles while currently making driving more relaxing.