We all know that the Earth is covered by the atmosphere. But perhaps it’s less known that within the atmospheric shield there are multiple layers that help protect us from all kinds of dangers.
The layer of the atmosphere up to 10-17km above the Earth’s surface is called the troposphere. Above this is the stratosphere, in which there is the ozone layer that filters the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Above the stratosphere comes the mesosphere, where most meteors burn up so they don’t hit the surface.
Just as the Earth is protected by multiple layers, Nissan has a similar vision called "Safety Shield.” Through development of multiple layers of safety features, Nissan's comprehensive approach to safety inspired technologies that help reduce or keep dangers away as much as possible.
Aiming for a zero-accident society
Vehicle safety has improved markedly over the past several decades. In 1970, the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Japan was 16,765. In 2013, it was 4,411—a drop of three-quarters in 43 years. One of the reasons is surely the advancements in safety technology, such as the car body design, seat belts and air bags, which help protect car occupants when there is an impact.
However, the number of traffic accidents and injuries themselves have not really changed. In order to realize a safer car society we need safety technology that helps prevent accidents from happening, not only reducing the damage if they occur. If we can fully develop this kind of technology, then a zero-accident future might be attainable.
To avoid colliding with other cars or pedestrians, drivers must avoid getting close to danger in the first place. In the previous two articles in this series we looked at Nissan's Forward Emergency Braking technology, the Emergency Assist for Pedal Misapplication, the Blind Spot Warning system and the Lane Departure Warning system. All of these technologies can help the driver avoid getting too close to dangers.
Avoiding danger through three processes
In order to avoid getting too close to dangers, the driver should first be aware of his or her surroundings. The Forward Emergency Braking technology assists the driver by monitoring the distance and speed of the vehicle in front, while the Lane Departure Warning system can detect certain lane markings on the road as well as the relative location of the car.
After awareness comes judgment. While it is the driver's responsibility to make accurate decisions regarding potential danger, the car can help with this judgment with the assistance of newly-developed technologies. For example, with the Forward Emergency Braking, the system judges the possibility of collision based on the information it perceives. If it judges the risk of collision to be high, the next step is action. The Emergency Brake system warns the driver through an audible alert, and if it determines that a collision is unavoidable, it applies braking to assist the driver, avoiding or mitigating a collision. Awareness, judgment, action—these are the three processes through which Safety Shield technologies can help drivers avoid certain dangers.
Here we can see how advances in technology can help drivers avoid accidents before they happen. Technology that is aware of what is happening around the vehicle is continuously moving forward, along with systems that judge and act based on this enhanced perception. When in the future we have fully realized the automated car, this Safety Shield philosophy will surely guide its fundamental technologies.