At the 2009 CEATEC technology exhibition display in Japan, Nissan will show its Eporo “school cars,” which mimic fish behavior and travel in groups.
Nissan designed the Eporo robot cars to mimic fish behavior by traveling in schools of like vehicles — at this point other Eporos — while avoiding accidents with each other and stationary objects. To travel in schools without crashing into anything, Nissan installed a laser range finder to detect objects and other Eporos beside each car, and an ultra-wide sonar system to detect objects ina vehicle’spath. The ability to detect each other and obstacles allows a school of Eporos to flawlessly navigate through tight gaps and around obstacles together, and then reform the standard school travel afterwards.
While this may simply sound like a neat science experiment, Nissan is actually using the project for research in creating collision-free vehicles based on its “Safety Shield” concept. The idea is to use technologies like this to allow groups of cars on the freeway to travel together without ever having an accident. Even one car equipped with this technology could potentially avoid other vehicles and accidents.
“We, in a motorized world, have a lot to learn from the behavior of a school of fish in terms of each fish’s degree of freedom and safety within a school and high migration efficiency of a school itself,” said Toshiyuki Andou, manager of Nissan’s Mobility Laboratory and principal engineer of the robot car project.
“In Eporo, we recreated the behavior of a school of fish making full use of cutting-edge electronic technologies. By sharing the surrounding information received within the group via communication, the group of Eporos can travel safely, changing its shape as needed.”
Nissan will demonstrate its Eporo robot car technology at the 2009 CEATEC technology exhibition in Japan from October 6-10.