The bee’s knees in safety gear
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.’’