A driver can activate Nissan's ProPILOT Assist system via depressing the ProPILOT Assist button (the blue radar-ringed car), followed by the 'set' button on the steering wheel. (Source: Nissan)

Nissan's ProPILOT Assist is more than lane-keeping

An SAE Level 2 partial autonomous system helps a driver keep a Nissan car centered between lane markers at highway speeds and during stop-and-go traffic jams.

An SAE Level 2 partial automation system helps a driver keep a Nissan car centered between lane markers at highway speeds and during stop and go traffic jams.

Nissan’s recently launched ProPILOT Assist adds partial autonomous functionality by leveraging its Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) and Steering Assist systems.

“ICC was enhanced to add ‘stop and hold’ capability, so now the system does not disengage when the vehicle comes to a stop. And the steering assist provides lane centering capability as opposed to ‘lane keeping’ which can bounce the vehicle between lane markers,” explained Andy Christensen, Senior Manager of Intelligent Transportation Systems Research at the Nissan Technical Center North America (NTCNA) in Farmington Hills, MI.

System activation occurs via two steering wheel buttons. “The operation is very similar to today’s ICC, and this was intentional in order to be intuitive for our customers,” said Christensen. Once the system is activated, a steering torque sensor detects if the driver’s hands are on the wheel. A’ no-hands’ detection sends an audible and visual alert to the driver.

The 2018 LEAF electric vehicle and the 2018 Rogue compact crossover utility vehicle, Nissan’s top-seller, mark the system’s debut. “Launching on the Nissan Rogue is about bringing this system to the mainstream and allowing more customers to have access to a driver assistance technology,” noted Ryan Rumberger, Senior Manager of Autonomous Drive Marketability at NTCNA.

A single radar, located behind the front emblem, senses the speed and distance of the vehicle ahead (ICC functionality), and a single camera at the top of the windshield detects lane markers and determines the vehicle position in the lane (steering assist function), according to Christensen.

Confirming that the system’s performance would meet U.S. drivers’ expectations required plenty of seat-time. Nissan’s Farmington Hills, MI, technology specialists drove the ProPILOT Assist test fleet of 13 vehicles more than 150,000 miles across the continental United States as well as Hawaii in snow, rain, and other weather conditions.

“When different road markings created concerns, we would work with our U.S. and Japan teams to break-down the data to understand the issues and engineer solutions to resolve those issues,” Rumberger explained.

ProPILOT Assist will soon be available on other Nissan models in the U.S. as well as models in Europe and other markets.

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