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New Nissan tech is designed to take over the steering when collisions are imminent


October 25, 2012

Nissan's Autonomous Emergency Steering System is designed to steer the car to safety when a collision is imminent

Nissan's Autonomous Emergency Steering System is designed to steer the car to safety when a collision is imminent

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In the same way that we didn’t go straight from landline phones to smartphones, there are likewise going to be some intermediate steps between today’s manually-driven cars and tomorrow’s fully self-driving models. We’re already seeing some of those steps starting to pop up, in the form of things like Cadillac’s Super Cruise control, Volkswagen’s Temporary Auto Pilot, and Volvo’s traffic jam assistance system. Nissan’s latest contribution is its recently-announced Autonomous Emergency Steering System.

The system is designed primarily to help the driver (and car) avoid collisions in circumstances where braking alone won’t be sufficient. According to Nissan, such situations could include “sudden intrusions onto the road in low speed zones, or when a collision at high speed is imminent due to the driver's delayed recognition of the tail end of a traffic jam.”

Cars using the system would be equipped with front-mounted radar and a video camera, two left and right rear radars, and five laser scanners mounted around the vehicle – this combination would give it a 360-degree view of its surroundings. Using output from these, the system’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) would identify situations in which a collision was imminent.

If that collision could be avoided by braking, the ECU would first warn the driver of the impending danger, and then proceed to apply the brakes if the driver failed to do so themselves.

In some situations, however, the ECU might decide that braking alone wouldn't be enough. In those cases, it would proceed to check for vehicles approaching from the rear, and for forward zones that were free of obstacles such as other vehicles or pedestrians. It would subsequently alert the driver with a series of audible beeps, and a visual display that indicated the direction in which the vehicle should be steered. If the driver didn’t react immediately by steering in that direction, the system would take over and do the steering itself.

It’s actually very similar in principle to the semiautonomous collision avoidance system being developed at MIT. That system also temporarily takes control of the steering when a collision is imminent, to guide the car into a “safe zone.”

Nissan’s Autonomous Emergency Steering System is one component of the automaker’s Safety Shield program, and is still in development. Another system created under that program, however, should be available in the Nissan Elgrand as of early next year – it uses video signal data to assess the car’s surroundings, and will suppress acceleration if the driver accidentally guns the gas pedal in a confined area such as a parking lot.

Source: Nissan

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I can see this leading to some deadly head-on collisions: car automatically swerves to avoid a stopped vehicle or immobile obstacle in its path, and strikes another oncoming vehicle. Some years ago an Airbus plane crashed when the autopilot took control away from the pilots during an intentional low-level pass.

Rolf Hawkins

Because it's so much better to be in a head-on collision with say...a semi doing 55 MPH than to rear-end some idiot who slams on his brakes?

Belinda Contague

NO WAY... I am fine with automated cars but, I am fine with them driving inches from them at high speed. I will never be in a car that "takes control" from me.. The dumbest Idea I have ever heard. Advance breaking is not steering. Will this car really be able to determine where people are? If i am driving down a street at 30 mph and a car is backing down a driveway. this car could see it as a treat and steer into a pedestrian.. DUMBEST IDEA THIS MONTH...

Michael Mantion

This makes me excited. I've been a fan of Nissan since getting to drive a 2007 Altima, and I'm glad to see they're trying their hardest to innovate and stay a step ahead of the competition.

Joel Detrow

I believe many of you are missing the core principles of this proposal. The system would apparently have access to MORE information about the environment than a human driver could process with accuracy; you honestly don't believe you can see in front and behind you at once? Using such systems as RADAR, you could actually "see" though bushes, so yes, the car could detect a car backing out of an obscure driveway, and no, it wouldn't swerve into a person because it would also know the person is there. Refer to the Google self driving car, which reportedly has only crashed once in the months of testing it has undergone (ironically someone driving the car crashed it, rather than the car crashing itself). Consider this an aid to the elderly or those with a handicap; and a chance to broaden narrow, selfish perspectives.

Ali Kim

I'm on the same page as Ali Kim.

Computers are officially smarter then us, it wont be long before we just sit in the car, and say your destination, and it will take you there. This tech is evolving pretty quickly.

Derek Howe

Either fully autonomous operation or fully manual operation The half and half encourages people to not pay attention to their own driving and make accidents more likely.


This is a dangerous folly.

Even IF it was possible to produce a self-driving/steering car somewhere in the future, the fact is that with the world's population growth plus resource scarcity it means that any 'car' is outdated technology.

For most journeys the only future answer will exist in mass transport systems that have sufficient flexibility to take us to & from door to door whilst also serving the population as a whole.


Kudos to Nissan for a cool technology. I'd love this tech to be tested on roads in developing countries where potholes can sneak up on you real fast. Let me make a 3-option driving proposal. a. Driver allows the vehicle driving autonomy b. Driver says I know this terrain, it's crazy, let me drive c. Driver co-shares the driving with the machine. And the navigation system is able to learn from the driver.

Ola Abraham

re; JPAR

Exactly what resource will be scarce enough to prevent private vehicles?


Cometh the first fatality due to a faulty sensor and so too cometh the legislation to ban the technology. By all means take some, or even most, of the control away from the driver, but in the end the driver has to be responsible for their vehicle.

Rather than avoiding accidents because the driver has not driven the vehicle safely, ensure that they cannot drive it in any manner other than a safe one.

Mel Tisdale

I agree with 'slowburn' halfway automation is hard to manage. I believe if the autobraking system is working well then you should never have to swerve. At this stage all the automotive technology is trying to do is save the ass of lazy or low trained/inexperianced drivers. I read Germany made a big difference lowering their road toll by bringing in more high level driver training. Not by putting up "Safety Speed camera's" (revenue raisers). Have high standards of training and testing and you have good road users. For those who fail there is always public transport etc.


Yes PLEASE swerve me into oncoming traffic!

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