The little electric vehicle that could…and can!
Nissan Motor Company has introduced autonomous vehicle towing at its Yokahama factory in Japan.
As part of the carmaker’s ‘Intelligent Mobility’ moniker, an automated Nissan LEAF electric vehicle tows newly finished vehicles from the end of the production line to a wharf area in the Oppama plant’s confines.
The finished vehicles are loaded onto a trailer by a worker and the Intelligent Vehicle Towing (IVT) system’s modified LEAF host tows the cavalcade to
its destination, able to detect obstacles, road markings and hazards thanks to an array of sensors, cameras and laser scanners. These technology aids help avoid hitting or straying by stopping or maneuvering the tow vehicle.
Connected to a central control traffic control system which monitors the vehicle’s location, speed, battery charge and vehicle status. Clever controlled algorithms allow two driverless tow vehicles to determine which goes first at an intersection, and the system can prevent both from moving in the case of emergency. Nissan says the path the vehicle follows is not based on magnetic strips or infrastructure guides like rails, but simply the path learned by the vehicle.
The program has run over 1600 autonomous towing test runs since it began a year ago and has improved efficiency while gathering data that will increase operational reliability. The system has even been developed to copy with alternate weather and light conditions, with failsafe systems in place to deal with unexpected or adverse situations.