Nissan sleeps with the fishes? Well, no... not exactly. But we'd guess someone in Nissan's Japanese think tank must watch a little too much Discovery Channel. We've all seen those amazing videos where unspeakably large schools of fish travel huge distances without anyone or anything to guide them. Somehow, it's all very organized and the fish don't seem to have any problems with traffic jams – which is more than we can say for us bipedal earth-goers. Apparently, Nissan has noticed the same thing.
Using two laser range finders mounted so that each unit has a 288-degree field of vision, Nissan's new Eporo robot 'cars' can travel along at speeds of 1.4 km/h (less than one mph), constantly changing direction as needed to maintain a safe distance from one another. The Japanese automaker suggests that such "Safety Shield" technology could eventually be applied to cars and trucks to help prevent accidents and traffic jams.
In addition to the obvious benefits of reduced roadway congestion and travel times, Nissan also points to the reduction in fuel usage, pollution and carbon emissions as potential results of its efforts. The new technology will be shown off at the CREATEC event next week in Japan. Assuming you can't make it, click past the break for the press release or check out our high-res gallery below.
Nissan EPORO Robot Car "Goes to School" on Collision-free Driving by Mimicking Fish Behavior
- Advanced Robotic Concept Debuts at CEATEC JAPAN 2009 -
YOKOHAMA (Oct. 1, 2009) - In 2008, it was the flight of the bumblebee that inspired Nissan's Biomimetic Car Robot Drive "BR23C" concept. In 2009, fish-inspired technology takes center stage in Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.'s new Nissan "EPORO*1" robot car concept, which is designed to travel in a group of like-vehicles, mimicking the behavioral patterns of a school of fish in avoiding obstacles without colliding with each other.
Nissan will demonstrate this breakthrough technology with a group of six EPOROs when they make their world debut at the CEATEC JAPAN 2009, October 6 - 10 at the Makuhari Messe.
EPORO robot car
CEATEC JAPAN is an annual exhibition showcasing cutting-edge electronic and information technologies. Nissan is the only auto manufacturer that has been a participant in this exhibition since 2006. In addition to displaying the futuristic EPORO, Nissan Senior Vice President Minoru Shinohara will deliver a keynote speech, titled "The Future of the Automobile with Electric Vehicles and Car Robotics Evolution," and participate in a panel discussion on "EV leads to a society of 'All Electrification' and 'All Mobilization.'" Nissan will also exhibit the new Skyline Crossover's*2 current collision prevention technologies and provide test drives of an eco-drive diagnosis system utilizing an iPhone®*3 application.
EPORO Robot Car
So what do a bumblebee and a school of fish have in common? Both demonstrate extraordinary "anti-collision" abilities, navigating instinctively and intelligently through challenging terrain by detecting and avoiding obstacles - just as future Nissan safety vehicles may have the
capability to do. But where bees - and the BR23C robot car - are likely to travel alone, the schooling behavior of fish, or a group of vehicles, presents a far greater challenge in terms of collision avoidance. In developing EPORO, three rules of fish behavior were applied to its driving control. School of fish swimming
School of fish swimming
Generically, fish recognize the surroundings based on lateral-line sense and sense of sight and form schools based on three behavior rules. A laser range finder*4 is used for lateral-line sense, while UWB*5 communications technology is utilized for the sense of sight.
Fish behavior rules
AREA 1: Collision Avoidance
Change traveling direction without colliding with other fish.
AREA 2: Traveling Side-by-Side
Travel side-by-side with other fish while keeping a certain distance between each fish (to match the speed).
AREA 3: Approaching
Gain closer proximity to other fish that are at a distance from them.
"We, in a motorized world, have a lot to learn from the behavior of a school of fish in terms of each fish's degree of freedom and safety within a school and high migration efficiency of a school itself. In EPORO, we recreated the behavior of a school of fish making full use of cutting-edge electronic technologies," said Toshiyuki Andou, Manager of Nissan's Mobility Laboratory and principal engineer of the robot car project. "By sharing the surrounding information received within the group via communication, the group of EPOROs can travel safely, changing its shape as needed."
This is the world's first development of a robot car that can travel in a group by sharing the position and information of others within a group via communication technologies.
While Nissan's ongoing research aims at creating collision-free vehicles based on its safety concept "Safety Shield*6," new technologies used in EPORO also aim to improve migration efficiency of a group of vehicles and contribute to an environmentally friendly and traffic jam-free driving environment.
Minoru Shinohara, Senior Vice President in charge of Research & Development, will make a presentation on "The Future of the Automobile with Electric Vehicles and Car Robotics Evolution," talking about an impact of EV on society and a safer automotive society in the future with collision-free vehicles.
Time and Date: 11:00 - 12:00, Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Venue: Convention Hall B, International Conference Hall
The trend toward the prevention of global warming and reduced dependence on oil are expected to create new industrial fields. Combined with new technologies, they will help contribute to a sustainable society. In this session, titled "EV Leads to a Society of 'All Electrification' and 'All Mobilization,'" executives from leading companies of related industries and local government officials will discuss business opportunities and challenges for this new energy revolution.
Time and Date: 14:00-16:00, Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Venue: Convention Hall B, International Conference Hall
* For details, please refer to the official web site.
[Other Presentations and Exhibits]
□Exhibition of Advanced Technologies for Collision-free Vehicles
Nissan will exhibit current cutting-edge autonomous safety technologies including Distance Control Assist System, Lane Departure Prevention and Around View Monitor with Parking Guide as well as cooperative technologies like Intelligent Transport Systems. Nissan's latest model Skyline Crossover, which was released in Japan in July 2009, will also be displayed.
□Test Drive Event for Eco Drive Check with iPhone®
In September 2009, Nissan and Yokohama City began a cooperative project called "E1 Grand-Prix," in which drivers compete in a fuel efficiency challenge. Aiming to encourage more people to participate in the project, Nissan will conduct a trial test ride event with an eco-drive diagnosis system. Utilizing an iPhone®*3 application on the roads around Makuhari Messe, participants will drive on a two-to-three-kilometer public road course and check how close they can come to the benchmark fuel-efficiency target.
* CEATEC JAPAN: Cutting-edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition.
Official website: http://www.ceatec.com
1. *1: EPORO: Abbreviation of EPisode O (Zero) Robot (Episode aiming to be CO2-free and accident-free).
2. *2: Skyline Crossover: Infiniti EX outside Japan.
3. *3: iPhone® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
4. *4: Laser range finder: Ranging sensor which measures the distance to an obstacle with reflection of laser light.
5. *5: UWB: Ultra Wide Band: Short-distance radio communications technology that measures the position of the target and the distance to it through calculation of the time lag from transmission to reflection of the pulse signal.
6. *6: Safety Shield: Nissan's advanced and active safety concept based on the idea the vehicle that always helps protect the people from normal driving situation to after the collision. It focuses on supporting drivers not to let them face the risk.