By on August 7, 2007

flying-car-new.jpgThe Detroit News gives us the inside dope on Nissan's latest gadget, which allows drivers to pay even less attention to their driving than they do currently. Nissan's engineers have developed a system that combines radar sensors with a computer to "make a car that judges dangers on its own" and lifts the gas pedal to warn the driver of possible collisions. If the driver takes his foot off the accelerator in response, the car will brake to a stop. However, if the driver keeps his foot on the gas, the car will continue to go. So now, that person on the cell phone in the car in front of you suddenly has to wake up and make a split-second assessment: is the car giving a false alarm and can they keep going, or is something happening that requires the car to stop? Nissan also has a lane departure prevention system that "swivels a car back into its lane if it swerves off" which will be offered later this year on the Infinti EX. Wouldn't it just be easier to pay attention to what's going on around you?

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15 Comments on “Nissan’s Next Nanny...”


  • avatar

    “Wouldn’t it just be easier to pay attention to what’s going on around you?” You don’t suggest that driving is a skill worth cultivation, do you? Driving while oblivious is a uniquely American art form, and Nissan realizes that folks just don’t want to interrupt their cellphone call to actually, like attend to business. It is a well-proven fact that it is the job of the automaker to make up for the lack of driving skill and attention among the unwashed. Just ask the IIHS…

  • avatar
    dolo54

    If they are that oblivious what would make them take their foot off the gas?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    that lane departure prevention system is going to make changing lanes on the highway a bitch!

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    that lane departure prevention system is going to make changing lanes on the highway a bitch!

    Orrrr, maybe it’ll force people to use their turn signals, the lazy bastidges. Say, if you have your turn signal on, the system anticipates you’ll turn and doesn’t try to activate the lane departure system. But fail to use it, and it fights you. Oh please, oh please.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to pay attention to what’s going on around you?

    You must remember, this is America, where the government has responsibility for your life and your actions, not you.

    Just substitute automobile manufacturer for government, and the same attitude applies.

    This is the land of people who wait on the government to evacuate them rather than getting out on their own when a hurricane is coming. This is the land of people who think the government needs to run health care, even after they see the mess it makes of income taxes and the VA hospital system.

    I wouldn’t trade living in America for anything, but sometimes I just throw up a little in my mouth…

  • avatar
    dean

    Megan, I think you have it right. I believe that’s how the Lexus lane-departure warning system works.

    But how is the guy steering with his knees as he holds his phone in one hand, his coffee in the other, cigarette in mouth, supposed to operate the signal? How is the poor sap supposed to make a lane change?

  • avatar
    210delray

    edgett: Before we get into another long-winded discussion about the IIHS, let me state simply that the IIHS is in favor of methods that work to cut the death, injury, and property damage toll on the nation’s highways. Its research is designed to to tell what works and what doesn’t. No areas of research or intervention are left untouched, be it the driver, the vehicle, or the environment (the roadway).

    Some measures that “common sense” would seemingly dictate would be successful aren’t: such as ABS and “advanced” driver training. Some are: such as ESC and administrative license suspension for DUI/DWI (that is the police can yank your license at the time of arrest — meaning you’re not free to drive until your trial).

    It simply isn’t known at this point whether or not lane departure warning (or prevention in the case of the Infiniti EX) will actually “work.” Similarly, it’s way too early to say whether Nissan’s latest gizmo that lifts the accelerator pedal will be successful. These devices will have to be carefully evaluated.

    If you don’t believe the IIHS is into all aspects of highway safety, look at this page, especially the “selected research bibliography” at the end: http://www.iihs.org/research/default.html

  • avatar
    AKM

    Orrrr, maybe it’ll force people to use their turn signals, the lazy bastidges. Say, if you have your turn signal on, the system anticipates you’ll turn and doesn’t try to activate the lane departure system. But fail to use it, and it fights you. Oh please, oh please.

    And what happens if you leave your turn signal on for too long? Does the car force a lane change? The highway shoulders would be littered with Maximas, Devilles, and Lacrosses…

  • avatar
    FreeMan

    ROFL @AKM- yes, Yes, YES!!! That’s the system we need. Force the lane change while slowly applying the brakes. Park the car at the side of the road, turn off the ignition and refuse to move until the eyeball sensor detects someone who can actually focus past the steering wheel is driving.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    AKM — Exactly. But FreeMan, you forgot Jaguar drivers on your list. Actually, if it detects the turn signal has been on for too long, it should assume the driver has had a heart attack and/or is incapacitated, and start braking the car while flashing the emergency lights (to warn the other drivers). The interstates would be lined with angry old people, too deaf to hear the turn signal, and stupid young people, too idiotic to put the cell phone down and figure out what that annoying clicky noise is.

  • avatar

    what happens when I want to autocross my car?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Every new gadget seems to follow a strange cycle of it being on, then being able to be turned off, then not being able to be turned off unless the car thinks its okay, etc.

    All this is leading us to cars that will drive for us, and as much as I hate that, so long as it is not mandated that cars drive themselves, I think it’s great.

    OTOH, no level of technology may ever meet the standard necessary to overcome the legal liabilities.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Having been just about taken out by a Ford Explorer this weekend, whose owner was steering with his knees while texting away on his Blackberry, I sometimes think these sorts of driver aids can’t come quick enough.

  • avatar

    210delray – glad to see you’re alive and kicking. If “…he IIHS is in favor of methods that work to cut the death, injury, and property damage toll on the nation’s highways.”, then where is the follow up press release on why the driver of the Ford Explorer is 17 times more likely a fatality than the RX-330 driver? Why no word about ABS after the mid 90’s?

    But good on the IIHS for helping to get drunks off the highways and for promoting the automatic “skill” offered by ESC (even automatic is better than nothing). And no doubt they’ll weigh in on the efficacy of the lane departure warning when it becomes a generally accepted accessory.

  • avatar
    210delray

    edgett: Here you go — more info on ABS (the latest IIHS study was in 2001):

    http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/antilock.html

    Same conclusion: no net effect one way or the other. The reasons for this are still unclear, but since ESC includes ABS as its foundation, this is a moot point (ESC will be required on all vehicles by the 2012 model year and is rapidly being phased in as we speak).

    As for the differences in death rates, this is a tough question to answer. As you know, the starting point for analysis of most crashes is the rather simplistic police report. The police are concerned with three main things, in this order: making sure the injured receive medical care ASAP and getting the dead to the morgue, clearing the roadway, and assessing who was at fault (as in what traffic laws were violated). The vast majority of fatal crashes are not analyzed in depth, unlike the case for airplane, train, or bus crashes.

    The NHTSA does conduct a “National Analysis Sampling System,” which attempts to make a more thorough analysis of a small nationally representative subset of crashes, but this has many limitations and shortcomings. For example, investigators don’t go to the scene of the crash right after it’s occurred. They must examine the vehicles and crash scene later. They also use a rather simplistic computer modeling program based on flat barrier crashes and the extent of vehicle “crush” to estimate the impact speeds involved in all manner of crashes.

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