October 4, 2012
Nissan Latest To Enter Automated Automobile Market
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Computers and robots have long been used to do the tasks in life either too mundane or too dangerous for humans. From the early days of calculators, to the future of search and rescue missions, humans have always found a way to delegate tasks to these machines. The latest boring task being given to the robots is the often-necessary evil of driving around town. Google has long been at work to create their driver-less car and even persuaded the California government to legalize testing on the streets of the Golden State.
Ford Motor Company and other auto manufacturers have been slowly implementing robotic element in their cars, helping drivers parallel park and even avoid accidents.
Now, Nissan has announced they´re getting into the robotic game as well as they showed off their own self-driving prototype at this year´s CEATEC electronics show in Japan. Nissan has built this prototype, unsurprisingly, on their current electronic flagship model, the Leaf, but that´s not where the electronic innovations end.
This car, dubbed the NSC-2015, also has LTE and smartphone connectivity, complete with onboard, panoramic cameras, allowing users to check for any unsavory guests who may be creeping around the electronic vehicle. The NSC-2015 was shown off paired with Samsung´s Galaxy S III, both displaying a mirror of a phone docked inside as well as transmitting data, such as location and real-time video feed, to another S III on the showroom floor.
The team at Engadget was on hand to check out this futuristic car and even got to enjoy a ride along as the NSC-2015 ever so slowly made its way down an empty piece of “street” on a vacated section of exhibition floor. The car was able to stop on its own at a pedestrian crosswalk, continue on after waiting an appropriate period of time, then stop and back into a waiting parking space with precision rivaling even the best of backwards parkers.
Once parked, the Nissan team demonstrated the alarm system as the “World´s slowest criminal” suspiciously walked up to the auto and crouched down low, inspecting the tires and the contents inside. A message suddenly popped up in the second S III held by the demonstrator, alerting him of a nearby intruder. With a single tap, a live, real-time feed of the car´s surroundings was brought up on screen. These cameras capture a full, panoramic image of the outside of the car. So, with a swipe, the owner can get a 360 degree glimpse of what´s happening around their electronic baby. If a miscreant is nearby (as he was in this case), the owner can sound an alarm from their phone, sending the car into panic mode as it flashes and honks until the would-be-criminal runs off. The criminal in this demo, however, only slowly slinked away. It´s only for show, of course.
Then, with another command, the car slowly pulled away from the space, making a hard right turn onto the “street”, stopping again at the same crosswalk. The NSC-2015 can even hunt its own parking spots after the owner has exited the car, according to a company spokesperson.
"The vehicle looks for a vacant parking space while identifying its surroundings; once it detects an open parking space automated parking begins. The driver can also use smartphone commands to make the NSC-2015 vehicle leave the parking space and return to the place where he or she is.”
Though something of a novelty right now, these automatic cars sure do make for a cool demo. But are consumers ready to entrust their driving duties to a machine?
“People still have a fairly strong desire to control their car, and producing these vehicles is more showcasing what's possible than what's likely at the moment,” said Paul Newton, analyst with IHS Automotive, speaking with the BBC. “...it´s still a long way off."