Nissan's little robot car: Quick like a bee

Nissan shows off a robot designed to test out accident avoidance technology.

Nissan BR23C
Nissan's BR23C avoids obstacles like a bee. Nissan

With the admirable goal of cutting accident rates in half by 2015, Nissan released details of an accident-avoiding robot, the BR23C. This moniker somehow stands for Biomimetic Car Robot Drive. Nissan patterned the robot's behavior after bees, which apparently don't get in accidents. Bees, according to the press release, maintain an oval-shaped personal space, using their compound eyes, which can see 300 degrees around them.

The BR23C uses laser range finders to stake out a similarly shaped area 180 degrees in front of the car, with a distance of about 6 feet. Where a bee will change direction if an obstacle enters its safety zone, the BR23C will likewise react by turning its wheels at a 90-degree angle or greater, sending it in another direction.

Nissan BR23C
The BR23C seems like a perfect companion to Honda's Asimo. Nissan

Honda Asimo
C-3PO to the BR23C's R2-D2? Honda

Nissan engineers describe the programming of the BR23C as instinctual, not requiring heavy processing power or maintaining a history of where the car has previously traveled. We're not sure if these engineers have ever seen a Roomba, but it sounds kind of similar. Also, with only a 6-foot detection range, we assume the BR23C isn't barreling along at 80 mph.

Nissan describes the avoidance technology used by this robot as just the final layer in a series of safety technologies. We've previously seen the company's lane departure prevention technology in the Infiniti EX35 . That feature seems like the precursor to a raft of accident-avoidance technology.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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