As technology advanced cars gradually got safer and safer, and today they even come equipped with radar-like sensors. Thanks to them, a driver will always be aware of any mistakes he unwillingly made. Lane departure systems, forward collision warning system, or blind spot sensors are something that every upper-end car has equipped.
The only problem with them is that these radar sensors are very expensive, and are only available for luxury cars. This is the reason why manufacturers have this sensor package optional for most models. Nissan is no exception to that rule and the expensive sensor pack is offered in the Infiniti range of cars.
High price is not the main thing that keeps consumers away from active-safety systems. It is very likely their price will remain high for years to come, so no sizable shift in consumer preference should be expected from here. Another, more slippery issue is the cause.
According to several studies most consumers would be willing to pay for convenience features, like Bluetooth and other fancy techs instead of safety features. Many have a poor understanding of what these safety aids do and fail to see how they could protect them avoid a crash. At the same time, an IIHS survey found out that if more vehicles would be equipped with accident avoiding systems the number of car crashes could be cut down by a third.
Nissan has found a rather acceptable solution for the price problem at least.
The company proposes the use of image processing via cameras in their Around View Monitors. They have succeeded in turning this system into an active-safety feature with minimal costs. No expensive radar sensors are required for this operation, so instead of thousands of extra dollars a few hundred can achieve the same result.
Multi-Sensing System, as the ensemble is called, has about the same image processing needs as your average smartphone, or just a notch above that. That was not the issue, the all-weather cameras were. A few years ago, even if the tech was already established on the market, costs would have still been prohibitive.
However, at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show Nissan let a few journalists test the system first-hand, and the results were very good. Naturally, the cameras do not work at full capacity in rainy weather, fog, or snow. But, in normal conditions the Multi-Sensing System can walk proudly side by side with its more sophisticated radar-based cousin. Warning the driver about possible forward collisions, or risky lane departures can now be done as a fraction of current costs. Any downside the system may have is well compensated by the possible huge number of cars that can now have the benefits of an active-safety feature.
This technology has been developed exclusively by the engineers at Nissan. This means that, for starters, only Nissanís cars will get to use the system. If it catches on, more manufacturers could apply this solution.
Expect the system to start appearing from 2012 onwards on Nissan models, like the Rogue, Sentra, or Altima.