Nissan’s new Serena minivan with a semi-autonomous technology called ProPilot takes a big step towards the automaker’s promise of bringing a self-driving vehicle to the road. This system doesn’t take over complete control, but it’s the company first stage towards making that dream into a reality.

ProPilot focuses on highway use and combines steering, acceleration, and braking control, which makes it somewhat similar to Tesla's Autopilot system. The tech can even bring the van to a complete stop if there’s an emergency ahead. ProPilot only works in a single lane for now, but Nissan plans to introduce a system with automatic passing in 2018.

To activate ProPilot, drivers simply press a button on the steering wheel, and a front-mounted camera begins scanning the road ahead. Nissan might avoid Tesla’s recent government scrutiny over its Autopilot system because the Japanese automaker forces drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. A torque sensor in the steering column knows whether someone is in control, according to Automotive News. If not, ProPilot first turns on a warning light, then a buzzer, and finally deactivates if the driver still doesn’t grab the wheel.

The new Serena goes on sale in Japan in late August, and Nissan promises a version of this tech for the Qashqai in Europe for 2017. The company eventually wants to launch it in the United States and China, too. Renault-Nissan has over 10 models with some autonomous functions on the way over the next four years.

Nissan started developing its autonomous tech a few years ago, and the company created a clear roadmap for the future. By 2020, the automaker wants to have a system that can automatically tackle urban roads and intersections.

Source: Nissan, Automotive News

Gallery: Nissan Serena ProPILOT

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Nissan’s new Serena ProPILOT technology makes autonomous drive first for Japanese automakers

YOKOHAMA, Japan (July 13, 2016) – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced today that the new Serena, scheduled to go on sale here in late August, will come equipped with the company’s ProPILOT autonomous drive technology, offering convenience and peace of mind during highway mobility.


ProPILOT is a revolutionary autonomous drive technology designed for highway use in single-lane traffic. Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking that can be operated in full automatic mode, easing driver workload in heavy highway traffic and long commutes.

Employing advanced image-processing technology, the car’s ProPILOT system understands road and traffic situations and executes precise steering enabling the vehicle to perform naturally. ProPILOT technology is extremely user-friendly, thanks to a switch on the steering wheel that allows the driver to easily activate and deactivate the system. ProPILOT’s easy-to-understand and fit-to-drive interface includes a personal display showing the operating status.

System Configuration

The accelerator, brakes and steering are controlled based on information obtained through a mono camera equipped with advanced-image processing software. The ProPILOT camera can quickly recognize in three-dimensional depth both preceding vehicles and lane markers.


Once activated, ProPILOT automatically controls the distance between the vehicle and the preceding vehicle, using a speed preset by the driver (between approximately 30 km/h and 100 km/h). The system also keeps the car in the middle of the highway lane by reading lane markers and controlling steering, even through curves.

If a car in front stops:

The ProPILOT system automatically applies the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop. After coming to a full stop, the vehicle will remain in place even if the driver’s foot is off the brake pedal. When ready to resume driving, ProPILOT is activated when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator.

Nissan is carrying out intensive studies of driving conditions in various regions so that ProPILOT will be well suited to the conditions in the markets in which it will be launched. The ProPILOT system equipped on the Serena in Japan was developed in pursuit of an easy-to-use technology for highway driving conditions in Japan.

Making Zero Fatalities a Reality

Nissan is proactively working on vehicle intelligence and vehicle electrification to make its corporate visions of “Zero Emissions” and “Zero Fatalities” a reality. Under “Nissan Intelligent Mobility”, ProPILOT promotes safety and instills confidence in drivers, and it is part of “Nissan Intelligent Driving”.

ProPILOT will be introduced into other vehicles, including the Qashqai in Europe in 2017. There are also plans for the technology to be introduced in the U.S. and China markets. A multi-lane autonomous driving technology will enable automatic lane changes on highways and is planned for introduction in 2018 while autonomous driving on urban roads and in intersections is planned for launch in 2020.

Nissan will advance its leadership in autonomous drive technology by introduction in each market’s core models, further improving safety and pioneering a new era for the automobile.