— Tesla and Google may be the companies getting the most attention in the march toward self-driving cars, but other automakers are working on their own driverless technology and slowly rolling it out to the public.
Nissan says its "ProPILOT" semi-autonomous technology will make its debut in Japan for owners of Nissan Serena minivans.
Saying ProPILOT is similar to Tesla's "Autopilot" system currently at the heart of investigations after the death of a Tesla Model S driver, Nissan wants consumers to know the meaning of the word "semi" in semi-autonomous technology.
Nissan says ProPILOT is semi-autonomous driving technology that needs interaction with a driver, constantly. The system isn't meant to be activated so a driver can take a nap or read a novel because simply removing your hands from the steering wheel for more than a few seconds will deactivate the ProPILOT system.
Braking also needs a driver, at least once automatic braking brings the minivan to a full stop. Once stopped, the vehicle stays put even if the driver's foot isn't touching the brake pedal. A driver will need to re-activate the system by using a switch on the steering wheel or by pressing the gas pedal to get the van moving again.
The ProPILOT technology is meant to be used only while driving in single-lane traffic with a driver prepared to take over if needed. The system will follow the vehicle in front and follow lane markers on highways by using sensors to gather data about what is happening around the minivan.
A camera is used to keep the minivan within the proper lane, when to use the brakes and when to accelerate. A driver will set the distance they want to keep the minivan away from traffic ahead.
The camera and sensor system were created by Mobileye, the same company involved in Tesla's "Autopilot" system, and the same company that announced its partnership with Tesla is ending after the death of Mr. Brown in the Model S.
Nissan plans on using ProPILOT in other vehicles in Europe in 2017 and use even more advanced systems in the U.S. in 2018. The automaker says autonomous driving on urban roads and in intersections is planned to begin in 2020.