The bee’s knees in safety gear

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

THE hum­ble bum­ble­bee is Nis­san’s new­est weapon in the fight against road trauma. The Ja­panese car­maker has copied the sys­tem bees use to pre­vent midair col­li­sions for re­search into cars that will avoid each other on the road.

The ob­jec­tive is to have a pro­duc­tion sys­tem ready within 10 years.

A bum­ble­bee uses its com­pound eyes to avoid col­li­sions with other bees.

Nis­san, work­ing with the Cen­tre for Ad­vanced Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy at Tokyo Uni­ver­sity, has mim­icked the way the bee’s eyes work for the Biomimetic Car Robot Drive.

The BR23C is a ro­botic mi­cro-car be­ing used to work to­wards the goal of pro­duc­ing a sys­tem that pre­vents col­li­sions al­to­gether.

Nis­san’s spokesman on re­search and de­vel­op­ment, Kazuhiro Doi, says BR23C is an ex­ten­sion of the com­pany’s four-lay­ered Safety Shield sys­tem.

‘‘In flight, each bee cre­ates its own oval-shaped per­sonal space which in fact closely re­sem­bles our own Safety Shield,’’ says Doi.

A bee’s com­pound eyes can see 300 de­grees and Nis­san’s en­gi­neers copied the idea with a Laser Range Finder that de­tects ob­sta­cles up to 2m away within a 180-de­gree ra­dius in front of the BR23C, cal­cu­lates the dis­tance to them and sends a sig­nal to an on-board mi­cro­pro­ces­sor which is in­stantly trans­lated into col­li­sion avoid­ance.

Nis­san Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment Divi­sion man­ager Yuk­ishi Sakai says: ‘‘The split sec­ond it de­tects an ob­sta­cle the car robot will mimic the move­ments of a bee and in­stantly change di­rec­tion by turn­ing its wheels at right an­gles or greater to avoid a col­li­sion.

‘‘The big­gest dif­fer­ence to any cur­rent sys­tem is the avoid­ance ma­noeu­vre is to­tally in­stinc­tive.’’

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