Nissan to introduce gas pedal brakes
Beginning with select Nissan or Infiniti products to be sold in the United States as 2008 models, Nissan will introduce a new braking system which automatically applies the brakes whenever you take your foot off of the accelerator pedal. Nissan is promoting the system as a safety feature. Radar sensors located in the front of the car work in conjunction with a vehicle computer to judge how close the car is to the vehicle in front of it and apply the brakes accordingly. Resuming pressure on the accelerator pedal releases the brakes.
Nissan has also developed a lane deviation system that actually steers the car back to its proper lane, should the driver let it wander. That system will be introduced in the United States on the Infiniti EX.
All in all, though, one gets the impression that Nissan has developed the answer to a question nobody asked. At least as it is described by Nissan, the braking system seems to remove the driver from a significant level of control over the car. How this system is to work in situations, such as using the brakes to settle the car going into a corner, when stopping is not the real purpose Nissan did not say. Similarly, there are situations in which you may not want the brakes applied, even though you are not pressing the accelerator.
Any driver with experience at driving in the snowy climates of the North knows that touching the brakes when a car starts to slide on ice is the quickest possible way to spin into the ditch. Apparently, Nissan hasn’t thought of that one, either.
Nonetheless, Nissan is obviously intent on bringing this technology to the market. In the end, it will be the market that determines whether the technology is wanted or not. Computer intervention in driving situations isn’t new. Anti-lock brakes date back to the early ‘90s and stability control systems have become commonplace in the last ten years. But systems that take vehicle control away from the driver, such as the new Nissan systems, are somewhat different. Even if it is in the name of safety, these systems are substituting the computer’s judgment for that of the driver.
In the last analysis, that seems like a poor idea.