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December 5, 2017

Nissan Intelligent Mobility Brings Simplicity Back to Driving

With the influx of technology and the speed at which it’s developing, one thing that most of us probably miss is this: simplicity. Back in the day, things get done when they get done. Nowadays, everyone wants everything at the snap of a finger. And we’re not talking about the latest smartphone or appliance, for that matter. No, this story is about the integration between technology and driving.

Before you think “automation,” that’s not what we’re talking about, either. The concept of automation is the instant recall in motoring today, especially with the growing category in global trade shows like CES. While that is well and good, what most of us are missing out on is how the details that make up the idea of automation are actually the features that are worth looking at. These are features that should not only make driving easier, smoother, but also safer every time we get behind the wheel.

Nissan Philippines Inc. President, Ramesh Narasimhan said it best: the idea of “value for money” should not just be about the monetary equivalent, but should also be connected to the quality and the actual value that the product offers to the customer. This philosophy ties in seamlessly with the foundation of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility: creating a community between cars and people. Before dismissing this as yet another hyped-up technology, we haven’t even talked enough, much less gotten behind the wheel to experience it firsthand. Nissan gave us this opportunity with the 2018 X-Trail and, while it wasn’t perfect, it gave us a real feel of how intelligent driving should be about. It’s not about being the next self-driving vehicle; it’s about giving drivers and commuters the confidence of being on the road and having a guiding hand right there in the car with them.

Starting with the most common: moving object detection and rear cross traffic alert (or, in layman’s terms, all-around sensors). Most of the newer vehicles have them and it’s useful for helping drivers “see” around the perimeter as they are squeezing into tight spaces. What’s different for the X-Trail is the presence of 4 cameras that provide an actual 360-degree visual on the in-car monitor. When an object or a person gets too close to the perimeter, a yellow warning box appears on the screen to signal the driver to stop. This feature, however, only engages if you are moving at 10 km/h or less; clearly not meant for cruising down the highway.

The second feature is the blind-spot warning signal. Any driver knows how challenging it is not being able to spot reckless motorcycle drivers that can come just a little too close for comfort. The detector serves as an effective warning signal to the driver that a vehicle is a tad close to where it cannot be seen. The sensors engage as soon as the car hits a speed of 30 km/h and higher, making it perfect for going through tight roads or when going down EDSA. While it does not replace good old-fashioned mirror and shoulder-checking, it’s a great reminder to the driver to keep tabs on his surroundings, especially since the signal is in the form of a blinking orange light right in the direction of the side mirrors.

The next notable feature is the forward collision warning and intelligent emergency braking. Its application is useful when encountering sudden obstructions on the road. The system sends an audible warning and an emergency brake immediately engages to avoid the hit, best for driving on the highway or areas where road conditions are particularly tricky.

However, our favorite feature is the around view monitor. The demo is an actual test drive inside a blacked-out X-Trail with the windshield, driver’s side window, and front passenger window all covered with duct tape, making the driver completely dependent on the 360-degree perspective broadcast by the vehicle’s cameras to the in-car monitor. This activity was the demo that showcased the strength of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility system. We got behind the wheel and guided the car around the track, simply by following the reference points on the monitor. It was amazing to see how accurate the guidelines were; every turn of wheel showed exactly in what direction the nose of the car was going to go and if you needed to adjust your angle further or pull back. The cameras look ahead for you and warns you of any upcoming obstruction. More than that, the best part was the realization that this final leg of the activity tied everything together. Being “blinded” to the outside world forced us to trust in the technology handed to us, but also in our own instincts; when to act and how to react.

This brings us back to the underlying philosophy of Nissan Intelligent Mobility in creating a holistic 360-degree approach between man and machine. At the end of the day, Nissan reminds us that automated technology does not have to be complicated. The system is designed to make us more confident on the road by designing a simpler track, aiding in reducing hazards, and making the experience safer. But ultimately, it is still up to us, the drivers, on how we react to these warnings. And that is where the true value of technology lies.

Words by Gen Tiu

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