The fu­ture of driv­ing is defin­ing the fu­ture of trans­porta­tion

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

When Nis­san’s Tet­suya Ii­jima en­vi­sions the fu­ture of driv­ing, he’s not only think­ing about how au­ton­o­mous driv­ing will im­pact the “be­hindthe-wheel” ex­pe­ri­ence but how to help so­ci­ety pre­pare for it.

To see the au­ton­o­mous driv­ing fully in­te­grate into daily life, solv­ing the many tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenges as well as so­ci­etal ac­cep­tance are key. “Peo­ple need to have a pos­i­tive mind­set to in­tro­duce the tech­nol­ogy,” said Ii­jima, Gen­eral Man­ager of Au­ton­o­mous Drive Tech­nol­ogy Devel­op­ment Depart­ment at Nis­san Mo­tor Co., Ltd.

For con­sumers, adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies is about trust, and es­sen­tial to that is un­der­stand­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Ii­jima, “For so­ci­ety to change... peo­ple need to un­der­stand that this is good for their fu­ture. Then, cus­tomers need to un­der­stand what the tech­nol­ogy can of­fer.”

This is not a new con­cept for Nis­san, which has a long his­tory of in­tro­duc­ing ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems - or ADAS - us­ing a step-by-step ap­proach.

Ii­jima be­gan at Nis­san work­ing on elec­tric-con­trolled sus­pen­sion, in which cars re­act faster and ab­sorb more bumps on the road. Ii­jima also helped to pi­o­neer Nis­san’s adap­tive cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture pre­ven­tion sys­tems and emer­gency brak­ing. All were at once un­known tech­nolo­gies, but are now widely adopted and have helped change trans­porta­tion. Thanks to a his­tory of in­no­va­tion, Nis­san is tak­ing a step-by-step ap­proach in in­tro­duc­ing au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nolo­gies to mar­ket. And that’s ex­actly what Ii­jima sees as the fo­cus.

“It’s a step-by-step ed­u­ca­tional ap­proach that al­lows driv­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence the tech­nol­ogy one fea­ture at a time and di­rectly see the value it of­fers.” Ed­u­ca­tion is crit­i­cal, but it’s not the only fo­cus for Nis­san. Ac­cord­ing to Ii­jima, the fu­ture Nis­san hopes to en­gi­neer is one in which af­ford­able and widely-de­ployed au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nolo­gies en­able safe and ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion for many.

This can be seen with the in­tro­duc­tion and pop­u­lar­ity of the Nis­san Ser­ena in Ja­pan ear­lier this year. The Ser­ena is now a top-sell­ing model in that mar­ket and fea­tures new tech­nolo­gies that can be used and ex­pe­ri­enced by many - not only in con­cept cars.

Ii­jima’s fo­cus now? Nis­san’s au­ton­o­mous drive tech­nol­ogy known as “ProPILOT”, which gives driv­ers the choice of man­u­ally op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cle or hand­ing con­trol over to on­board sys­tems in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions. The first of these tech­nolo­gies, in­tro­duced in Au­gust, al­lows cars to as­sist driv­ers by steer­ing, brak­ing, and ac­cel­er­at­ing au­to­mat­i­cally and safely in a sin­gle lane on high­ways. In 2018, Nis­san ex­pects to un­veil a “mul­ti­ple­lane con­trol” ap­pli­ca­tion that can au­tonomously ne­go­ti­ate haz­ards and change lanes dur­ing high­way driv­ing. Two years later, it plans to add the ca­pa­bil­ity for the ve­hi­cle to nav­i­gate city driv­ing and in­ter­sec­tions with­out driver in­ter­ven­tion.

By that time, the Re­nault-Nis­san Al­liance plans to launch more than 10 mod­els with sig­nif­i­cant au­ton­o­mous driv­ing func­tion­al­i­ties in the US, Ja­pan, Europe and China.

Fo­cus­ing on so­cial ac­cep­tance will also al­low con­sumers as well as in­volved gov­ern­ments, groups and other agen­cies, the time to con­sider the ben­e­fits of the new tech­nolo­gies.

“There must be a huge change in gov­ern­ment and so­ci­ety.”

Once au­ton­o­mous drive tech­nol­ogy reaches a cer­tain level of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance, de­ci­sions must be made on driv­ing in­fra­struc­ture and laws to ul­ti­mately change so­ci­ety’s mind­set. Ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cep­tance will be im­por­tant as the tech­nolo­gies fur­ther evolve. As Ii­jima notes, “My team will con­tinue to work on ad­vanc­ing what’s pos­si­ble to help cre­ate an au­ton­o­mous driv­ing fu­ture for all. We will share our vi­sion so that one day ev­ery­one can pic­ture them­selves be­hind the steer­ing wheel of an au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle.”

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