Nissan showcases crashproof cars and an eco pedal

Published: 06 August 2008

Nissan has unveiled a brace of new technologies to make driving in the 21st century cleaner and greener – but they also signal a further erosion of driver independence, ceding more control from man to microchip.

How so? Well, the new systems announced today mark a step towards the driverless car: one is part of a project that hopes to eliminate accidents altogether while the other pushes against the accelerator to encourage a lighter right foot. Very 1984.

All-Round Collision Free: that's a snappy title!

This new tech is designed to act as a 360-degree safety blanket, using all-round sensors to monitor the proximity of other cars – and then brake the car if a collision is predicted.

The company aims to halve the number of deaths and serious injuries in its cars by 2015 compared with 1995, and it says the All-Around Collision Free system is one way of addressing driver error. It's not really anything new, using existing parking and active radar sensors to monitor traffic nearby, but the way it then communicates with the car's ECU and activates the brakes is a step towards the more intelligent car.

And what's this about an Eco Pedal? Is Nissan building a piano?

The new Eco Pedal, announced today, is a new type of accelerator that pushes back against the driver's foot if he presses too hard. It sounds like a driver's worst nightmare, but at least the system can be swithced off.

It delivers a 'counter push-back' only if electronics assess that the level of throttle activation is heavier than that required to maintain the chosen course. An eco-driving indicator on the dash helps guide the driver to a more efficient driving style too.

Is Nissan serious about these technologies?

Oh yes. While the All-Around Collision Free know-how is a little way off production, the Eco Pedal will be launched in 2009 and Nissan claims it can trim fuel consumption by 5-10 percent.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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