Business / Corporate

Nissan to offer navigated highway driving system with hands-free component starting in fall

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday that from this fall it will start offering a system that allows navigated highway driving and hands-off single-lane driving, in the automaker’s latest push toward self-driving vehicles.

Nissan said its Skyline sedan for the Japanese market can be equipped with the new driver assistance system, the first of its kind in the world.

Aiming to revive its sluggish earnings, the automaker is seeking to enhance the quality and brand image of its vehicles with next-generation technologies under a medium-term business plan unveiled Tuesday.

“No other company has this technology of a navigated highway driving system with hands-off single-lane driving,” Nissan Executive Vice President Kunio Nakaguro told a news conference at the carmaker’s headquarters in Yokohama.

Tetsuya Iijima, general manager of Nissan’s autonomous drive development, said it would not be easy for other carmakers to commercially offer a more sophisticated assistance system for the moment.

To use the new system, drivers will need to first set their destinations in the navigation system before entering the highway. Once on the highway, the system will assist drivers with changing lanes until the highway exit is reached. It will also allow hands-off driving while cruising in a single lane.

Drivers will need to place their hands on the steering wheel when changing lanes to pass slower vehicles.

Navigated highway driving relies on 3D high-definition maps, cameras, radars, sonar and GPS data for 360-degree, real-time information on the surrounding environment and to determine the vehicle’s precise location.

Carmakers and technology companies such as Google LLC and Tesla Inc. are developing self-driving vehicles not only to reduce road deaths but create new businesses such as ride-hailing services based on autonomous taxis.

Audi AG has put a high-end A8 on the market that can, under certain circumstances, take full control of a vehicle away from the driver, while Daimler AG and BMW AG said in February they will jointly develop vehicles capable of automated driving on highways and during parking.

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