Picture this. You are driving into town in your Nissan LEAF zero-emission electric car, looking for somewhere to park. Pulling into an underground parking garage, instead of circling around, trying to find a space, you simply pull up, get out, head off to the shop and let your car find its own parking space.
Sounds like science fiction? Well it’s not – this technology, developed by Nissan, is very real, and it’s already working. At the CEATEC 2012 show, Japan’s leading electronics exhibition, Nissan has been showing off the LEAF NSC-2015 prototype, a car that’s so intelligent, it can do the hard work of driving and parking for you.
Taking the existing electric, zero-emissions Nissan LEAF as a base, Nissan’s engineers have added in a specially-designed camera system which can monitor the environment. Other sensors and electric motors can then take over control of the car’s acceleration, braking and steering.
The LEAF NSC-2015 is the latest step on the road towards fully autonomous vehicles, cars which will be able to do much of our driving for us in the future, making our roads safer, less congested and less polluted, but still allowing us to take control for when we want to enjoy ourselves behind the wheel.
Using clever 4G LTE smartphone connectivity, the LEAF NSC-2015 can stay in constant communication with its owner when the two are separated. It will let the driver know, by sending messages to their phone, where the car is parked and how much charge is left in the batteries (or how long until they are fully charged, if the car was plugged in).
It will even alert you if the camera and sensors detect any suspicious activity in its area – such as someone attempting to break into the car or tamper with the charging system. Nissan could potentially have such a system on sale to the public by 2015.
Also at the show is Nissan’s new home-based EV Power Station, a plugin point for your LEAF where it can charge up on the driveway and part of Nissan’s LEAF-to-Home system. In an ingenious twist though, the Power Station’s connection to the LEAF can work both ways – charging it as normal, or actually taking power from the LEAF’s batteries to power the house’s electrical systems in the event of a major power failure.
So, not only is the future of motoring going to be free from pollution, with the concepts being explored by the Nissan LEAF NSC-2015, it could be free from parking hassle and power-cuts too.