Nissan Very Confidently Presents Its Self-Driving ProPilot System

It seems like not five years ago, you didn't really count as a carmaking company if you didn't have at least one hybrid model in your lineup. Today, though, the benchmark has changed, and it's all about the ability to promise a self-driving car come 2020.
Nissan ProPilot 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
Because that's what everybody is offering right now: promises. They're making nice presentation videos with people smiling while the steering wheel turns by itself or with computer renderings and animations showing the plethora of technology that will be available on these autonomous cars, but there's nothing palpable.

There are a few brands with quasi-autonomous vehicles out there, of which Tesla seems to be the one making the biggest waves, but that turned out to be a move that can backfire now and then.

Nissan decided it was time to get into more detail regarding its system called ProPilot, and so - you guessed it - released a three-minute long clip that mixes real-life footage with animations to explain why it will be the best solution on the market. That is even though nobody knows just yet what some of the other carmakers are quietly cooking up.

Predictably, Nissan used a Leaf EV as a support, covering it in all kinds of sensors and cameras. Forgiving the somewhat patronizing tone ("this isn't science-fiction, it's real. And you'll see it sooner than you think"), the Japanese brand details the sensors array available on the vehicle, starting with no less than five radar units, the four laser scanners (each on every side) and the 8-way camera system that covers every possible angle on a 360-degree radius.

Nissan seems to have started without the LIDAR receptor mounted on top of the vehicle (like the one Google uses and some other early systems such as the one developed by Bosch), incorporating five radars instead into the car's body. But nobody ever said that the difficulty in making an autonomous car was finding room for all of its sensors.

No, the real challenge is to help the vehicle make the most of the information they gather and do it quickly and reliably. That's where the battle is going to be fought, and as of now, nobody seems to have the upper hand. Except in the videos they make.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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