Nissan finds smoother, safer driving formula

Three new inventions from Nissan research engineers aim to make driving safer and more comfortable. The first is a system which monitors drivers’ behaviour to predict when they are likely to perform a dangerous manoeuvre, such as overtaking into oncoming traffic. Tests showed the system to be almost 100% accurate in forecasting a driver’s actions […]

Three new inventions from Nissan research engineers aim to make driving safer and more comfortable.

The first is a system which monitors drivers’ behaviour to predict when they are likely to perform a dangerous manoeuvre, such as overtaking into oncoming traffic. Tests showed the system to be almost 100% accurate in forecasting a driver’s actions 12 seconds ahead, said Nissan.

The system uses sensors on the steering wheel, accelerator and brake. It processes information based on the assumption that behaviour can be broken down into long chains of simple commands and actions. When a pattern emerges, the system predicts the most likely action to follow. It is hoped that it will alert drivers in time to prevent them from making potentially fatal decisions.

The second development is an adaptive cruise control (ACC) system which will automatically keep a car at a safe distance from the vehicles in front. The ACC system controls acceleration and braking to maintain a set difference from the vehicle in front. It measures road distance using radar sensors accurate to one millimetre. The driver predetermines safe speed and distance parameters and can override the ACC system at any time.

Nissan says the system is suited to motorway driving, can be used in all weather conditions and will be especially useful in fog.

The third innovation aims to cure car sickness and will be incorporated in the new Primera on sale in September. Researchers at the company’s European Technology Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, have experimented with car seat density to dampen road noise.

Low-frequency noise, at around 6Hz, causes the stomach to resonate, bringing on nausea. The car seats have been `tuned’ to prevent noise reaching passengers.