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The 2018 Nissan Leaf Might Be The First Affordable Non-Tesla To Drive Itself

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf is coming in hot, and the automaker has been revealing little nuggets of information on its website to remind us. Nissan’s newest revelation: the new Leaf will get a semi-autonomous function called “ProPILOT.” But it won’t quite compete with Tesla’s Autopilot—at least not initially.

Nissan’s short clip below describes a new “driver-assistance technology”which will be standard equipment in the new generation Nissan Leaf.


Nissan says the technology “supports drivers by helping control acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane driving on the highway.” In other words, it keeps the car in the lane, and maintains proper distance to the car in front during highway cruising in what would likely be classified as level two autonomy.

Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot system, ProPILOT Assist is “single lane,” meaning it won’t offer an automatic lane changing function right out of the gate—just lane keeping and essentially adaptive cruise control. But the company has plans to ramp up the system’s autonomous capabilities, saying in a press release:

In the coming years, Nissan’s ProPILOT technology will offer increasing levels of autonomy, with the system eventually able to navigate city intersections.


The Leaf’s ProPILOT Assist will likely build on the ProPILOT system that Nissan first showed in its Nissan Serena minivan last year. That system included fairly basic hardware suite (shown below) including a TRW front camera hooked to a Mobileye computer and fairly standard car technology like electric power steering, an electric park brake, ABS and an engine control module.

The Serena’s ProPILOT functions are essentially the same as what Nissan says will be available with the 2018 Leaf’s ProPILOT Assist (lane keeping, adaptive cruise control with stopping), making me think the two are the same systems (I’ve reached out to Nissan for confirmation).


Nissan did say in its Serena ProPILOT press release last year that “A multi-lane autonomous driving technology will enable automatic lane changes on highways and is planned for introduction in 2018,” but it doesn’t look like that will be ready for the new Leaf.

So the Leaf’s ProPILOT Assist is not likely to be quite as impressive as Tesla’s Autopilot when it debuts (likely later this year), but it’s still nice that North America will join Asia (with its Serena) and Europe (with its Qashqai) in receiving some semi-autonomous goodness from Nissan.


There’s also no word on what separates Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist from Volvo’s Pilot Assist, however we are forced to assume that Nissan’s is intended for/by professionals.

No amateurs here, please.