Nissan introduced the 2017 Serena minivan on Wednesday, a slightly redesigned model that features semi-autonomous highway driving.
The Nissan ProPilot system provides one-lane highway driving for the Serena minivan, but that’s where the system sophistication ends. It cannot change lanes or routes autonomously, and is not functional in urban environments.
Drivers will be able to turn on the autonomous pilot at speeds between 19 and 62 mph (30 to 100 kph) and follow the road until the driver takes over. The autonomous tech follows the preceding vehicle in the same lane, and gives room for cut-ins from other lanes.
Mobileye, the Israeli driver assistance firm, has provided the on-board front facing cameras that track the car in front, according to ExtremeTech. Unlike some 360 systems currently being tested, the 2017 Serena minivan can only see what’s in front or to the side of the car.
Nissan has plans to add lane switching in 2018, followed by autonomous driving in urban environments by 2020. This is a similar timeline to most automakers that are invested in autonomous driving.
It is a step behind Tesla’s Model S, which can already switch lanes. Given the recent turmoil following the death of a Model S driver using Tesla’s AutoPilot mode, we suspect automakers to be even more cautious of adoption self-driving technology early.
Nissan takes an early lead on hometown rivals
Nissan is the first Japanese automaker to bring semi-autonomous features on the road, but Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi are all working on self-driving services for future cars.
On top of being the first Japanese automaker to hit the road, Nissan is also one of the first to test its autonomous functionality in the United Kingdom. It has already completed a few tests on UK roads, and the Queen’s Speech address—which is essentially a manifesto of the government’s near term plans—calling for the legalization of self-driving cars could spur further investment from Nissan.