Introducing the Nissan Leaf – The future of autonomous driving

|     Azlan Othman in Tokyo, Japan     |

TIRED of applying brake in long and heavy traffic? Having difficulty parking your car, especially in tight parking space? Wanting to enjoy cruising along highways stress-free with steering wheel unaided? Then an autonomous and electric vehicle from Nissan called Leaf could give you the solution.

Nissan’s autonomous drive technologies had impressed journalists taking part in a test drive in Yokohama, Japan, driving along the highway with its electric and autonomous vehicle called Leaf, which is the world’s best-selling electronic vehicle without using a single drop of petrol – a whole new driving experience.

Nissan Leaf is equipped with five radars, four lasers and 12 cameras all around the exterior which guide the driver in navigating around urban streets and curves.

The Nissan Leaf can ‘see’ 360 degrees around your vehicle and alert you to risks detected from all sides. It can apply the brakes if necessary, warn you if someone is in your blind spot, let you know if you need air in your tyres, and even tell you if it senses it’s time to get some rest.

The moment you jump into this electric vehicle, you feel the sporty look and the second you touch the accelerator, the instant torque and smoothness of acceleration awaits and that is exciting.

The Nissan Leaf is equipped with the Pro-Pilot Assist where you can drive with the steering wheel unaided, and the E-Pedal for auto-braking and autonomous parking technology
Trying the Pro-Pilot autonomous parking
The Pro-Pilot Assist
Nissan Leaf E-Pedal mode

With its e-Pedal technology, it reduces stress of applying brake when caught in stop-and-go traffic, waiting for traffic light to change, and hold on hills or slippery road surfaces. Releasing the accelerator pedal automatically engages brakes and maintains vehicle stop without brake pedal operation.

In this technology, releasing the accelerator pedal engages regenerative braking coordinated with friction brakes and deceleration control which corresponds to vehicle speed. Functionality covers 90 per cent or more of common braking manoeuvres.

Meanwhile, its Pro-Pilot autonomous parking helps drivers to park their car with ease and liberates them from difficult driving manoeuvres. It functions by automatically controlling all parking manoeuvres via steering, accelerator, brakes, gear shift and parking brakes.

It can be done through three operations at the touch of a finger, namely by pressing the Pro-Pilot Park button; stop next to a parking space and press the Start button on the GPS display; and finally hold down the Pro-Pilot Park button until parking is completed.

Turn on the Pro-Pilot Assist and you can drive with the steering wheel unaided. Screens attached to the Leaf’s dashboard include a virtual map, a camera view and one pinpointing green cones in your path which is picked up by laser and radar.

Autonomous drive may contribute significantly to reducing accidents caused by human error and inattention. More than 90 per cent of car accidents are caused by human drivers, said Nissan Engineering Specialists to the media.

Parked cars, incoming traffic and lack of proper lane markings make it a real test for the car, Nissan Engineering Specialists said to the media. Nissan hopes to have fully autonomous cars ready as showpiece taxis for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Much of the technology will be available in cars before that, with the capability for autonomous single lane driving to be included in its Qashqai models this year, and in cars able to drive on highways and motorways available in 2018 – a phased approach that Nissan hopes will see the public gradually embrace the benefits of no longer having to drive by themselves.

In Southeast Asia, so far Nissan has its autonomous drive in Thailand. But there is a huge market in Asia for autonomous drive and Nissan are expanding particularly in the China’s market, added the Nissan Engineering Specialists.

The driverless Nissan Leaf has been the crowd puller and garnered much of the buzz around this year’s Tokyo Motor Show in addition to the usual concept cars and artificial intelligence. When it comes to giving drivers a glimpse of the future, then Nissan Leaf surely does fit in.