Nissan’s robocar uses latest collision avoidance technology

Nissan Motor Co. has teamed up with the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology to develop an advanced safety system which is based on, of all things, bees. The team was inspired by the insect’s innate ability for collision avoidance which is probably one of the best in the natural world.

The Biomimetic Car Robot Drive, or BR23C was built by Nissan. The less than half-meter tall micro-car, which looks more like a Star Wars droid than a car, is designed to mimic a bee’s maneuvering skills. Data from studies using BR23C will be used to develop a system that will eventually make collisions a thing of the past.

More info after the jump.

Nissan’s objective is to come up with a collision-avoidance system based on their “Safety Shield” concept in which cars proactively help protect people.

"The BR23C robotic car is positioned as the inner-most layer of this shield. We are expecting that this robotic car will support the development of future collision-avoidance technologies," explains Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Executive Vice President in charge of research and development.

The Safety Shield concept is Nissan’s replication of what researchers perceive to be an oval-shaped space created by the flying bee around itself. The insect’s compound eyes allow it to scan more than 300-degrees of the area around it. Engineers used a Laser Range Finder (LRF) to give the BR23C its own compound eyes. The LRF allows detection of objects from two meters away, within a radius of 180-degrees. The corresponding signals are then processed by an on-board microprocessor which, almost instantaneously, executes collision avoidance.

"The split second it detects an obstacle, the car robot will mimic the movements of a bee and instantly change direction by turning its wheels at right angles or greater to avoid a collision. The biggest difference to any current system is that the avoidance maneuver is totally instinctive. If that was not so, then the car robot would not be able to react fast enough to avoid obstacles," says Toshiyuki Andou, Manager of Nissan’s Mobility Laboratory.

"It must react instinctively and instantly because this technology corresponds to the most vulnerable and inner-most layer of our Safety Shield, a layer in which a crash is currently considered unavoidable," Andou explains. "The whole process must mirror what a bee does to avoid other bees. It must happen within the blink of an eye."

A bee in flight though has the option to deviate up, down, or even diagonally; the BR23C is only capable of turning left or right, or decrease speed to avoid collisions.

"This device only needs to process inputs every few seconds, and act on that," he said. "It does not require a huge central processing unit to run complicated programs or a large memory to store enormous data from previous maneuvers. It can operate continuously using an extremely simple microprocessor."

The BR23C will be seen at Nissan’s booth at the CEATEC this week in Tokyo.

Mike Intia
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  (45) posted on 09.30.2008

this has a long way to go before the droid becomes a family saloon

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