Nissan ProPilot Assist Makes Driver Assistance Technology More Accessible | Edmunds

Nissan ProPilot Assist Makes Driver Assistance Technology More Accessible

With a name like Nissan ProPilot Assist, you'd expect this tech feature to be a significant step toward self-driving cars. The system isn't quite that advanced, however: It's basically full-range adaptive cruise control paired with lane keeping assist. It's a far cry from the autonomous Nissan Leaf concept vehicle we experienced four years ago, and only a very small step toward Nissan's stated goal of delivering a commercially viable self-driving car to market by 2020.

Nissan ProPilot Assist system

The Nissan ProPilot Assist system instead aims to assist drivers in heavy traffic conditions and long highway stretches and is activated by a single button on the steering wheel. The adaptive cruise control maintains an interval to the vehicle it's following, much like every other system from other carmakers, and can bring the car to a complete stop. If traffic resumes within 3 seconds, the system will automatically begin to follow. If the stop lasts longer, the driver will need to either tap the cruise control resume button or nudge the gas pedal in order to continue.

The lane keeping assist system works to maintain the vehicle's position in the center of the lane, but drivers must keep their hands on the wheel. If sensors in the steering column determine the driver is no longer "hands-on," the system will emit a warning beep, along with visual alerts. If no driver intervention is detected, the car will slow to a stop.

We tested out the ProPilot Assist system in dense L.A. traffic and found that it does a decent job of keeping the car in the center of the lane, but only under ideal conditions. If the lane markers become difficult to identify, the system will beep and the assist will deactivate. A change of pavement color is enough to shut off the system momentarily.

The ProPilot Assist system will debut in the next-generation Leaf that is set to be unveiled on September 5. Retrofitting existing Nissan vehicles seems plausible since the demonstration vehicle we drove was a current-generation Rogue, but Nissan's current intent is to roll out ProPilot Assist as vehicles are redesigned.

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