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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

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. In our last article we showed you some of the details of Nissan's latest advanced technology. It is technology packed with original ideas to help prevent accidents or make driving more convenient, such as an automated braking system to help the driver slow down or even come to a stop in an emergency, or the Around View Monitor System, which gives the driver a virtual 360-degree bird's eye view of the car.

Helping Prevent Rear-End Collisions
Forward Collision Avoidance Assist Concept

Forward Collision Avoidance Assist Concept
Looking at the photo, it looks like the car is simply parked in front of the obstacle. In fact, the car had been driven head-on towards the obstacle at about 60 km/h (37.5 mph) and was brought to a complete stop without the driver applying the brakes.

What happened is that an advanced safety feature came into play, and helped the driver avoid a collision by automatically applying the brakes. The technology is the Forward Collision Avoidance Assistt Concept (FCAAC) was developed as part of Nissan's Safety Shield concept and embodies Nissan's approach to the innovation of advanced crash avoidance features. We asked Tetsuya Iijima, the engineer from Nissan in charge of the project, to explain.

"The first step for FCAAC is to alert the driver to the detected obstacle and apply partial braking to help reduce vehicle speed so the driver can take evasive action before a collision becomes unavoidable" say Iijima. "And then, if the car gets too close to the obstacle for the driver to steer out of the collision path, the system applies emergency braking and brings the car to a standstill. The first thing is to urge the driver to notice the danger and take avoidance action, and only when the collision is really imminent does the car intervene with emergency braking to help stop the vehicle. That is the main point behind Nissan's thinking."

What happens if you turn the wheel when the automated brakes are being applied?

"This system applies emergency braking only when the danger is really imminent. As long as there are choices left available to the driver, his or her decision making is given priority. A machine cannot compete with a human being at making decisions. So as long as there is still a possibility for the driver to steer the car away from potential trouble, even if first stage braking is being applied, the driver's actions will override the system and the system will be suspended. But once the obstacle is so close that the collision cannot be avoided by steering and emergency braking is activated, the driver cannot override the brakes."

What are the difficulties in automatically stopping a car traveling at 60 km/h (37.5 mph)?

"The most challenging part in developing the system is the sensor technology used to determine if there is an obstacle at a distance in the car's path. By using high-precision, high-sensitivity millimeter-wave radar, we are able to detect a vehicle at a distance of approximately 60 meters (197 feet) in front of the car."

A high-sensitivity radar sensor is fitted in the front bumper of the car, and when a potential collision is detected ahead, the driver is alerted with audible and visual warnings. In the next stage of the process the accelerator pedal pushes up on the driver's foot to intuitively encourage the driver to release the accelerator. When the accelerator is released, partial braking is automatically applied to help begin to slow the vehicle. At this point, the driver's action is still able to override the system. If the vehicle continues to approach the object and the driver would not be able to avoid a collision through steering,, automated emergency braking then intervenes to help stop the car. For example, if you are traveling at 60 km/h (37.5 mph) when a stationary vehicle is detected ahead, the alarm is sounded and force is applied to the accelerator at the same time. When the accelerator is released, the brakes are applied gently and by the time you are approximately 5 meters from the obstacle your speed will have been reduced to around 35 km/h (22 mph). At this point, the full automated brakes are applied, and the car will stop about 70 cm (28 inches) from the obstacle, helping to avoid a collision.
iijima.jpgTetsuya Iijima
Supervisor, Electronics Engineering section, IT and ITS Engineering Department.
After taking charge of electronic suspension in the chassis development department, he moved to the ITS department when it was opened in the late 90s. He likes to think while he is driving, and travelled over 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) around the USA while developing systems for the US market. He enjoys trekking and fishing.

Helping Reduce Parking Lot Accidents
Two technologies to help during low speed maneuvers.

Backup Collision Intervention
Navigating a crowded parking lot is an everyday challenge for drivers. Often, a driver's visibility may be limited by surrounding vehicles or parking lot structures. Here, we are developing two technologies designed to help the driver avoid potential collisions during parking-type situations - "Moving Object Detection" and "Backup Collision Intervention."

Backup Collision Intervention uses audible and visual warnings and automatic braking to help the driver avoid potential danger at the rear of the vehicle. Moving Object Detection sounds a warning when moving objects are detected and visually highlights the display screen to help alert the driver

What exactly does the Backup Collision Intervention system do?

"When you are backing out of a parking space, your line of vision may be blocked on both sides, and unless you pull the car a certain distance out you simply can't see what is happening to the left or right behind the vehicle." explains Masahiro Kobayashi. "The Backup Collision Intervention system detects objects at the rear of the vehicle, and uses audible and visual alertsto help the driver notice the potential danger, and in some cases applies automatic braking to help bring the vehicle to a stop and help avoid an accident. "

What were the hurdles in making the Backup Collision Intervention system a reality?

"The trickiest part was choosing the appropriate sensors. In a parking lot there are many situations that may arise, and finding a way to detect objects under a variety of conditions was the biggest challenge. In the end we are using milli-wave radar and sonar, and I think we've managed to detect many of the parking lot situations that may present a challenge to drivers."
Moving Object Detection
How does the Moving Object Detection system identify something that is moving?

"A high speed processor uses an image processing algorithm to evaluate the image coming from a cameraand determine whether there is an object moving within the image." explains the engineer in charge, Daisuke Tanaka. "If it detects a moving object close to the vehicle, a warning sounds, and the area where the object is detected is highlighted on the Around View Monitor monitor."
kobayashi01.jpgMasahiro Kobayashi
IT and ITS Engineering Department.
After joining Nissan he took charge of autonomous ITS systems, and currently works in the IT and ITS Engineering Department. He wishes his own car had an ITS system.
tanaka01.jpgDaisuke Tanaka
IT and ITS Engineering Department.
He has developed the Rear View Monitor and Side View Monitor systems, and is currently in charge of the around-view monitor system. He has fitted out his own car with cameras, monitors and sonar, and is now looking for the next item to go on board.