Tech’splaining: Nissan ProPilot 2.0

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Nissan is taking its next step towards a future of self-driving cars with ProPilot 2.0, the automaker’s new hands-free driving assist system. Compared to the current ProPilot system – available today in models like the 2019 Altima sedan and 2019 Rogue SUV – this new generation of ProPilot comes with more sensors and allows a greater degree of driving autonomy.

  • Nissan ProPilot 2.0 delivers hands-free driving assist
  • ProPilot 2.0 is now a Level 3 autonomous drive system
  • Eye-scanning tech makes certain the driver is paying attention to the road
  • Likely to appear here next year, in updated Infiniti Q50 luxury sedan
Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0 offers hands-free driving. When in use, a monitor in the vehicle makes certain the driver is still paying attention to the road.

What Does ProPilot 2.0 Do

For starters, unlike today’s ProPilot, which makes the driver keep their hands on the steering wheel, ProPilot 2.0 is happy to let you go hands-free when the system is running. Previously, ProPilot would emit a series of chimes and visual warnings if it detected the driver’s hands weren’t on the wheel for more than 2-3 seconds. In a worst-case scenario, should the driver keep failing to respond to these warnings, a ProPilot-equipped vehicle would start to slow the car down, turn on the hazard lights, and bring the vehicle to a stop in its lane of travel.

Instead, ProPilot 2.0 relies on an in-cabin monitoring system that scans the driver’s eyes, to make certain the person behind the wheel is paying attention to the road. This is similar to the monitoring device Cadillac uses in its own Super Cruise autonomous drive system.

Japan-Market_ProPILOT2.0 Technology_Front-source
A smarter self-driving system means more sensors are needed. ProPilot 2.0 uses cameras, radar, and sonar to create a 360-degree image of the car’s surroundings. Photo: Nissan

Will ProPilot 2.0 Drive The Car For You

There are still some limitations to what ProPilot 2.0 will let you do. First and foremost, the system can only be turned on if you’ve selected a destination in the car’s navigation. Then, when you’re on the road, ProPilot 2.0 is limited to highway use only, or what Nissan refers to as “on-ramp to off-ramp” driving.

Once activated, ProPilot 2.0 maintains its lane position and adjusts steering, braking, and acceleration to suit the driving conditions. If the system detects a slower vehicle up ahead, it uses its 360-degree sensor array to determine if it’s safe to pass. Visual and audio cues are relayed to the driver, letting them know it’s okay to attempt a passing maneuver.

Nissan ProPILOT Assist technology reduces the hassle of stop-and
When the vehicle determines it’s safe to do so, the current ProPilot system is activated with the simple push of a button. Expect ProPilot 2.0 to keep things simple, too. Photo: Nissan

Now that the car has determined it’s safe to pass, the system requires the driver to place their hands on the steering wheel and turn on the turn signal. The car then moves into the next lane to complete the pass, though it still requires confirmation from the driver (via a steering wheel-mounted switch) before it returns to its original driving lane. Nissan says the process provides “a smooth driving experience, similar to that produced by an experienced driver.”

When ProPilot 2.0 detects your stint of highway driving is coming to an end, it again relays visual and audio messages to the driver. These confirm the system will automatically deactivate itself when turning onto the highway off-ramp. The driver must then take full control of the vehicle.

Unlike the simpler front-facing camera and radar sensors used in today’s ProPilot, the new version employs a much wider array of hardware. This includes a combination of radar, cameras, and sonar sensors mounted around the vehicle. Together, and working in cooperation with the GPS and high-definition navigation, these create a 360-degree view of the car’s driving environment.

When Will ProPilot 2.0 Be Available In The US

This extra degree of autonomy will likely mean a bump in price, at least compared to the current ProPilot system. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise ProPilot 2.0 will debut this fall in Japan, on the updated Nissan Skyline luxury sedan. In the U.S., this same model is sold by Nissan’s luxury division as the Infiniti Q50.

It’s likely (though not confirmed) that Nissan will bring ProPilot 2.0 to the U.S. when the updated Q50 arrives next year. The system should then migrate to other models in both the Infiniti and Nissan product lineup.

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