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Think Innovation! Creative Engineering at Nissan

To take an idea that might have only been possible in a sci-fi movie, and try to make it real. That is the job of engineers at the forefront of technology innovation.

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2010/11/18

Detecting Potential Danger When Changing Lanes.

Blind Spot Intervention
Many drivers have experienced the unsettling situation of attempting to change lanes on the highway without having noticed another vehicle already occupying the adjacent lane. Nissan has developed the Blind Spot Intervention system to help the driver in such a situation.
The photograph shows two cars driving on a highway in adjacent lanes. The car in the left lane is in the other car's blind-spot area. In this situation, Blind Spot Intervention illuminates a light near the outside rearview mirror on the same side as the detected vehicle. If the driver indicates a lane change by activating the turn signal, an audible warning is provided.

As indicated by its name, providing information and warnings is only part of how Blind Spot Intervention can assist the driver. If the car in the right lane were to approach the lane markers near the vehicle in the left lane in an attempt to change lanes or due to drift, Blind Spot Intervention issues a warning and automatically intervenes using the braking system to help the driver avoid a collision.

How did you manage to make the Blind Spot Intervention system a reality?

"There are other systems which alert drivers to other vehicles detected in theblind-spot area." explains Satoru Yahagi. "But Blind Spot Intervention provides additional support to the driver by gently applying the brakes on the opposite side of the vehicle to assist the driver in bringing their vehicle back toward the center of their lane of travel. This assistance through brake application is what makes the Blind Spot Intervention system unique. Because the system actually intervenes in addition to providing a warning, we had to develop a system that could detect the position of the other vehicle very precisely, and that was what took the most time."

What is unique about Nissan's system?

"The same can be said for all of Nissan's technologies which provide some type of active intervention, but the point is to use the technology to help the driver take action to avoid potential danger - in this case by actually applying braking interventionto help push it back toward the center of its lane."
yahagi.jpgSatoru Yahagi
Manager, IT and ITS Development.
After joining Nissan, he spent 10 years developing braking systems before taking on his current post. He works at the cutting edge of automobile technology, but his great love is the S30 Fairlady that rests quietly in the garage of his home - he says 'rests quietly' because it sounds good - actually, the engine doesn't work...

Smooth driving in the Fuga Hybrid

Hybrid Fuga
After testing out all the safety technology, we spotted the new Fuga Hybrid due to go on sale this Autumn, and took it for a test drive.

Nissan's first hybrid car to be equipped with Nissan's "Pure Drive Hybrid System" is the new Fuga. On a full charge, the car sets off and drives for some time on motor only. There's no sound from the engine when powered by only the motor, but as the car switches between motor and engine, the ride is so smooth you simply can't tell until you check your status on the dashboard monitor. With the motor to support the gasoline engine, the car has more power than a similar gasoline-only powered vehicle. And with the Pure Drive Hybrid System featured on a 3 liter sedan, the Fuga Hybrid opens a whole new area in the world of hybrids.

Satoshi Hasegawa is in charge of the development of the new Fuga, and we asked him to walk us through it.

"The main point is the Pure Drive Hybrid System," he explained. "It's a Nissan original system that provides high quality environmental performance as well as high quality driving performance. This unique balance is made possible by the lightweight, 1 motor-2 clutch system which is simple and highly energy efficient. The technology allows the clutch to be applied several times in the space of just one second, and still provide a smooth and comfortable ride. Because Nissan's hybrid system connects and disconnects the clutch, motor and engine, we have been able to reduce the fuel consumption considerably."

What hurdles did you have to overcome to make the system work?

"The mechanism in the 1 motor-2 clutch system allows for simple and direct acceleration and fuel savings, but even though it is very simple the system is inclined to create vibration. We were able to overcome that by using a lithium-ion battery which charges very quickly, and a fast-response motor, and then developing a controlling program that gets the full power out of both those parts."

What kind of battery have you used?

"We are using the same high performance lithium ion battery that is in Nissan's Electric Vehicle "LEAF". By then fully optimizing it for the speedy electric needs of a hybrid, it is highly efficient at storing power from regenerated energy. With those 2 developments as the base, we've been able to get the fuel consumption levels of a 1.8 liter compact car out of the Fuga Hybrid, plus direct driving power to develop a cutting-edge hybrid system."

So, by using Nissan's Pure Drive Hybrid System, the engineers have managed to get compact car fuel efficiency out of a large vehicle. The 2 clutch system allows for efficient distribution between the motor and gasoline engine, to keep the energy efficiency top rate. And on top of that, combining the motor and engine at high speeds makes for driving performance beyond that of a regular gasoline car. The driver is kept in touch with the motor and engine switching with a dashboard monitor system.
hasegawa.jpgSatoshi Hasegawa
Deputy Chief Vehicle Engineer, Manufacturing and Quality Department, Infiniti
When he joined Nissan he worked on chassis design. After 10 years developing vehicles, he became DCVE (Deputy Chief Vehicle Engineer). He has worked on all platforms apart from the D Platform. He enjoys traveling. But recently the furthest he gets to travel is to the Nissan offices, so he's thinking it's time to do something about that....