By on July 29, 2010

I’m still shaking when I think back to my first ride in the passenger seat of a brandnew Phaeton. It was piloted by a known reckless high executive of Volkswagen. Near Hannover, we barreled down the Autobahn, with the speedo indicating something above 250 km/h. I didn’t dare to inspect it closer, because I was scared to death. We were in the thickest of fogs. Visibility zero. “Aren’t you worried?” I inquired with a shaking voice. “Nope. We have RADAR.” Actually, it was called Abstandswarnung (distance warning). Now, Nissan will make it available to the common Joe.

Nissan says they have technology for preventing rear-end collisions via an in-car radar that monitors the distance to the vehicle ahead, reports The Nikkei [sub]. When the car gets too close for comfort, an alarm sounds and the accelerator pedal is pushed up to prompt the driver to get off the butt of the preceding car. “If the driver still does not hit the brakes, the system automatically does so when the distance narrows to 5 meters,” says the Nikkei, adding that “the automaker aims to commercialize the technology as soon as possible.” Then, we can text and call as much as we want.

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26 Comments on “Get Off My Butt: Nissan Develops Rear-End-Avoider For The Masses...”

  • avatar
    M 1

    5 meters??? Jeez. It’ll be useless for anybody who doesn’t live in the sticks. Heck, ever been to Japan? I spent two weeks there recently and I doubt there was a 5 meter gap between cars in the entire country.

    If you’re going to nanny my driving, go all the way and make it drive for me. At least that way I can get other things done.

  • avatar

    Didn’t Mercedes and Volvo demonstrate (or fail to demonstrate, as it were) systems just like this?

    • 0 avatar

      I think Volvo had a system failure of some kind, and IIRC Mercedes did their test indoors, where it doesn’t work – so they had a guy simulate it, and the guy crashed.

      I assume he went right back to the office, cleaned out his desk, and went home…

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, yes, I recall the Mercedes system and the “indoors” question.

      I believe further questions asked “What if you’re driving through a tunnel at the time?”. I certainly remember going slightly ga-ga driving through the Alps.

  • avatar

    The Phaeton GP0 (Euro 2003-2006) version of the Phaeton was able to hit the brakes while alerting the driver, but not to bring the car to a full stop.

    The current Phaeton will bring you to a full stop.

    VW in the U.S. chickened out of bringing the Phaeton ADC technology here back in 2004 when they had the chance. Too afraid of lawsuits.

  • avatar

    The drivers is notified through the pedal being pushed up? that seems like a bad idea. Increasing the complexity of the gas pedal mechanism doesn’t seem to be the best option. Before I read how the driver was notified by the system, I assumed it was though an audio system, like beeps or tones, or a voice.

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of cars already have adjustable pedals, so I doubt it would add that much complexity to allow the car to trigger the adjustment mechanism via sensor data from a radar unit instead of the button inside the cabin.

    • 0 avatar

      First of all, I think my mother would love this technology, and I would probably appreciate it too when riding along with my less conscientious friends. That said, I agree that a better idea is some type of audio or visual alert rather than a reactive gas pedal. NASA was brought in to investigate causes of “unintended acceleration” in cars that didn’t even feature this technology, so why further complicate equipment that is already puzzling engineers. Also, I think this technology will result in drivers taking less responsibility for their own actions, and we’ll see a lot more Toyota style lawsuits blaming the automakers for rear-end collisions that should never have occurred in the first place. Here in New York, tailgating is epidemic, and drivers are usually at fault. We shouldn’t need technology to replace common sense and respect for others. I’d rather see the production of technology (like some type of sensor) that better informs a driver of what actions to take on the road. At least that way, it will be harder for irresponsible drivers to make excuses for the accidents they cause.

    • 0 avatar

      My 2002 Formula Firebird with TCS would kind of vibrate the pedal when TCS engaged. It was an odd sensation that would make you raise your foot. Probably something similar.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I assume this gadget will have the unintended consequence of setting off everyone’s radar detector in the vicinity.

    But I suppose such “cheats” are illegal in Europe.

    Leaving that issue aside (which is probably unique to our “cowboy culture” here in the US), wouldn’t this device be more useful if connected to a HUD that showed cars ahead as blips and flashed, say, yellow, then red if the car were closing with the car ahead at dangerous rate, given both the closing rate and the speed of the vehicle in which the radar was mounted?

    For example, 5 meters distant for an alarm is grossly inadequate, if the vehicle ahead is stopped and you are going 100 km/h. On the other hand, 5 meters distant is fine, if the vehicle ahead is doing 5 km/h and you are going 10 km/h.

    And, while I would be tempted to say 5 meters ahead is fine if you are not closing the vehicle at all, that depends on the speed both vehicles are traveling. If you are traveling at a speed such that you would close the 5 meter gap with the car in front in the time it takes you to apply the brakes in reaction to seeing the brake lights of the car in front, then that’s too close, even if you are not closing the car.

    But replacing the driver’s judgment with an automatic radar-driven brake application is a bad idea. Then people will just turn over responsibility for maintaining a safe distance to the machine.

  • avatar

    I’ll be waiting for the first “unintended deceleration” suit.

    • 0 avatar

      Something I find interesting is that Ford has a ‘Collision Warning with Brake Support’ system that can predict a possible collision, and reacts by flashing a huge red light onto the windshield to get the driver’s attention, and pre-charging the brake lines so that the driver has full stopping power immediately.

      Volvo has a similar system that also allows the car to brake itself. The system was developed while Ford owned Volvo, so likely was developed by Ford, but in either case Ford has to own the rights to the full-on Volvo system, but chose not to implement the self-braking capability. Ford already has adaptive cruise control that can slow a car down to a predetermined gap, so the technology to self-brake is already in Ford vehicles, so it can’t be a cost issue either.

      Since Ford has been planning on selling Volvo for a while, the decision not to include the ability to hard-brake can’t be because of potential stratification of options amongst different brands either. The only reason I can think of is that Ford is worried that such a system very well could lead to lawsuits.

  • avatar

    Such systems are on offer from Mercedes-Benz, MAN, Volvo Trucks etc, for trucks and buses/coaches and quite popular in Europe.
    Current limitation is that they cannot detect stationary objects

  • avatar

    So now, when I’m cruising along the freeway and someone jerks into the lane in front of me, his car will now start auto-braking if he was less than five meters from the car ahead? That’ll be fun. And if there’s gridlock, will everyone just have to get out and walk home, since the cars won’t let them move?

    OK, that’s overstating, and I really hope they work this out. However, I’m becoming increasingly tempted to find all the fun, low-milage 90s/early 2000 cars I can.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve driven a few cars with “distronic”, “laser cruise” or whatever. it’s nice. In gridlock, it’s really nice. Yes, you turn your brain off a little, but it’s also less fatiguing.

  • avatar

    “We have RADAR”

    soon to be added to Famous-Last-Words list including:

    “We have ABS”
    “Watch this!”

  • avatar

    That wouldn’t work for me when I’m ‘shooting the gap’ to get out of a pack of slowpokes and left lane cloggers. I never tailgate, but accelerate and pass within a few meters I will do if the need arises.

  • avatar

    I hope most people don’t take the 250km/h 0 visibility idea and run with it in these cars. But unfortunately, I know some will.

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