Nissan car technology innovates to save lives

Driver monitors and a cushioning bonnet make roads safer

As we've seen before , Nissan Japan is actively developing and employing technologies to increase the safety of its vehicles. It has a particular emphasis on combating drink driving and minimising the impact of accidents.

With those goals in mind, the company yesterday unveiled a raft of new methods aimed at making life safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

The first to see service is a modified car bonnet that will be fitted to certain new cars from the autumn. The Pop-up Engine Hood uses a sensor in the front bumper to detect when the car has hit a pedestrian.

Air cushion

If it judges the impact severe enough, the system instantly opens the bonnet by a few centimetres. This creates a cushioning space between any pedestrian hitting the bonnet and the much harder engine below.

The other systems are still some way off a real-world debut. They were showcased in a concept car as part of Nissan's Vision 2015 plan to cut accidents in half by that year.

Booze watch

An alcohol-detection system uses sensors in the seats and gear stick, combined with a transmission lock. When sufficient booze is registered in sweat from the driver's palm by the gear stick, the car simply can't be started until another driver tries his hand.

Should a drunk driver somehow get things moving, there's also a driving behaviour monitor that issues an audio alert when the car moves erratically, tightening the seatbelt to gain the driver's attention.

Lastly, a facial-recognition system uses a dashboard camera to keep tabs on the driver's alertness. When it judges that the driver's eyes have been closed too long, it sounds an alarm and again tightens the seatbelt.

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