Like a fish out of water - Nissan unveil EPORO robot car concept
By Mick Webb
October 7, 2009
Taking its cue from under the sea, Nissan has revealed the latest offering in its ongoing Safety Shield line of research and development, aimed at making our roads and vehicles safer and smarter. Programmed to think and move like a school of fish, Nissan's EPORO robot car prototypes move in unison as a group while communicating to avoid collision.
Nissan initially revealed its "anti-collision" technology in 2008, with the BR23C robot based on the behavioral characteristics of a bumblebee. And while bumblebees, like fish, demonstrate anti-collision abilities such as detecting and avoiding obstacles, bees tend to travel alone while fish travel in schools. Nissan studied the behavior of groups of fish, as it better mirrored a traffic environment.
Fish form schools based on three behavioral rules - collision avoidance, traveling side by side, and gaining closer proximity to fish that are at a distance. They recognize their surroundings based on lateral-line sense and sight.
The EPORO (standing for "Episode 0 Robot", meaning zero accidents and zero emissions) robot cars use a laser range finder for lateral-line sense, and ultra wideband radio to communicate and determine the distance to obstacles. This essentially creates multiple units that operate independently of one another, while still co-operating in awareness of each other's position, therefore avoiding collision.
Nissan believes that "we can learn from the behavior of a school of fish in terms of each fish's degree of freedom and safety within a school, as well as the high migration efficiency of the school itself".
Six EPORO robot concept cars are making their debut this week at the CEATEC Technology Show in Japan.