Nissan's Star Wars Commercial For Its Semi-Autonomous Driving System Is So Very Stupid

Nissan’s had this Star Wars tie-in deal for years now, and there’s no evidence it makes any real sense at all, or sells cars. Well, I think Nissan finally figured out what it’s good for: making their semi-autonomous system look useless and stupid. Great job, team!


How did they pull this off? With this idiotic commercial, designed to tie in with the new Solo: A Star Wars Story movie and highlighting their ProPilot Assist Level 2 semi-autonomous system you can get on the new Rogue:

Ugh. Okay. Sure, the little dog is cute, standing in for Chewbacca, with some kind of rakish pet-restraint strap echoing the Wookie’s trademark bandolier, but everything else about this ad is inane.

My problem with the ad is that in the process of attempting to highlight the benefits of ProPilot assist, all it manages to do is demonstrate how fundamentally useless it, and, if we’re honest, all Level 2 autonomous systems are.


In case you’d forgotten, Level 2 systems can require the driver to take control back over with no notice, so you have to keep paying attention and (with most systems) keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. Really, you may as well just drive the damn thing.

In this ad, the situation where the Millennium Falcon threads its way through a narrow gap between two Star Destroyers is suggested by a Nissan Rogue driving over a bridge, in an open lane flanked by two semi trucks.


You can see the parallel the commercial is trying to set up, of course, but the problem here is that where in the movie, the situation is shown to require some actual skill and finesse, the scene set up on the bridge is literally the most basic bit of driving possible, and could be accomplished by a human driver keeping one rule in mind: don’t crank the steering wheel around like a fucking moron.


Seriously, how was this driver planning to drive through that generously-sized, wide-open, full-lane gap between the two trucks if she hadn’t activated ProPilot assist? Like a pinball? Slamming into one truck and then rebounding into the other in a zig-zag pattern until the Rogue skittered off into the bridge’s guard rail?


No, she would have executed pretty much the exact same actions as she did with ProPilot on: kept her hands steady on the wheel, maintained speed, and, you know, didn’t turn.

All of the stupid graphics showing the compu-futuro-math of the Rogue plotting its wildly complex, entirely straight path between the trucks just enhances all the idiocy here. The car is doing that much space-math to just fucking stay in its lane and drive calmly between those trucks? Is that worth it?


I mean, look at the driver. Why isn’t she just driving, like she was before she came upon the two trucks? She actually expended more effort turning the stupid ProPilot Assist system on to have it do, what, the same tiny amount of work she’d have done, only requiring the use of decades and decades of computer research and development?


Then the commercial ends with her saying “Straight down the center. Impressive. I know.” Which is pretty much the exact opposite of what everyone who just watched this shitshow is thinking.

“No” we’re thinking. “Driving 200 yards in the middle of a nice wide lane with the most gradual of curves really doesn’t seem that impressive, no.” I mean, yes, I understand that a car being able to do even that straightforward task is technically impressive, if you really dig down into it, but from a layman’s perspective? Pfffft. No.


Did anyone watch this and think, “Whew! Glad she had that ProPilot Assist to get her out of that sticky jam!”? Maybe, if those people had never AmateurPiloted a motor-car on their own. Maybe.

So, way to go, Nissan’s ad agency, TBWA Chiat Day, you did everyone an incredible service: you showed us all, with carefree delight, just how stupid semi-autonomy can be.


(thanks for showing me this, Randy)

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)