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Nissan automates car towing: learns about autonomous vehicles

Nissan automates car towing: learns about autonomous vehicles

Technology News |
By Julien Happich



Part of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision, the IVT system uses a modified Nissan LEAF to autonomously tow trollies carrying finished vehicles between designated loading and unloading points at the plant.

Unlike conventional automatic guided vehicle systems for transporting parts, which often require the installation of rails or extensive use of magnetic tape, this system does not need any special infrastructure to operate, but instead relies completely on the towing car’s autonomous driving capabilities.

The said car is equipped with an array of cameras and laser scanners that detect lane markings, curbs and potential obstacles or hazards around the vehicle.

By cross-referencing this information with map data, the towing car calculates its own location, negotiating the route to its destination unaided, traveling within the speed limits of the factory, and automatically stopping if it detects an obstacle or hazard ahead.

This allows the towing route to be easily altered to accommodate changes in production processes or vehicle transport routes, and using the driverless car is expected to improve production efficiency too.

All driverless towing cars are connected to a central traffic control system, which can monitor the location, driving speed, remaining battery and operational status of each vehicle. When two driverless towing cars meet at an intersection, the control system’s algorithm determines which car should be given right-of-way, and in case of emergency, the system can stop the vehicles remotely.


Trial operations started about a year ago at the plant, with more than 1,600 test runs already logged. Nissan says it has devised a safety system and a fail-safe system to counter potential risks or unexpected conditions the IVT system may face during autonomous driving, including adverse weather and low light conditions.

While the project is still under development, a lot of data has been acquired and the company hopes the know-how obtained on autonomous driving within its private factory premises will eventulally benefit consumers on public roads.

Once it will have fully tested its IVT system at its Oppama Plant, Nissan will consider implementing it at other manufacturing facilities both in and outside Japan.

Visit Nissan Motor at www.nissan-global.com/EN/

 

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