The Infiniti Q50 will debut a new driver-assistance system that will allow for hands-off driving later this year.
Exclusive to the Japanese market at this stage, the Q50 – sold in its home region as the Nissan Skyline – will get an enhanced ProPilot technology suite (dubbed ProPilot 2.0) that uses the vehicle's navigation system to assist drivers on the highway over a pre-determined route.
Nissan says the technology is "designed for on-ramp to off-rap (ramp-to-ramp) highway driving", and will assist the driver travelling on a multi-lane highway with overtaking, lane diversions and lane exiting.
"The new ProPILOT also enables hands-off driving while cruising in a given lane. When the vehicle approaches a road divide, or when passing a slower vehicle is possible, the system judges the appropriate timing of branching off or passing based on information from the navigation system and 360-degree sensing," the company says in its press release.
"The vehicle uses a combination of cameras, radars, sonars, GPS and 3D high-definition map data (HD map) to provide 360-degree, real-time information of the surrounding environment and the vehicle’s precise location on the road."
Drivers are prompted certain functions are available via audio and visual cues from the vehicle, which can be switched on at the flick of a button.
Hands-off driving is available when driving in a single lane provided the driver's attention is focused on the road ahead – which is monitored by a camera mounted on top of the dashboard.
Should the vehicle ahead be travelling slower than the speed set on the ProPilot cruise control, and the Q50/Skyline detects that it is safe to overtake the driver can elect to pass the vehicle ahead by operating a switch and putting both hands on the steering wheel.
While the driver's hands are on the wheel, Nissan says the "vehicle will smoothly move into the passing lane" on its own.
A similar function is available for lane changes, where the driver simply puts their hands on the wheel, activates the indicator, and the vehicle will change lanes if the system has determined it's safe and possible.
Once the vehicle reaches the highway exit ramp of the pre-determined navigation route, the system is disengaged and the driver is required to take full control of the vehicle.
However, the system is not without limitations. Nissan outlines some disclaimers in its press materials:
- "Hands-off driving is possible when driving in a single lane, on the condition that the driver remains attentive on the road ahead and is prepared to immediately take manual control of the steering wheel when conditions of the road, traffic and vehicle require it."
- "The hands-off feature is not available in tunnels where a GPS signal cannot be established, on expressways that have two-way traffic, on winding roads, in tollgate areas or merging lanes. When entering a road section where hands-off driving is not available, the system will alert in advance so the driver can take manual control of vehicle steering."
For the time being, Nissan says the ProPilot 2.0 technology is "only available in Japan", likely ruling it out for global markets for the short-term.
However, regions like Europe and North America get the earlier version of ProPilot in various models like the Qashqai and X-Trail which combines the lane assist and adaptive cruise systems for semi-autonomous highway driving as long as the driver has their hands on the steering wheel.
Speaking with Caradvice, Nissan Australia's corporate communications manager, Tony Mee, said there are "no plans to introduce these technologies to our current vehicles".