Nissan previewed on Wednesday new safety technology that goes beyond a warning beep if drivers veer into the path of danger, and actively tries to pull the car in the direction of safety.
A car installed with the brake-resistance device would try to deter the driver from changing lanes, for example, if it detected a car zooming up from behind in the motorist’s blind spot, Nissan said.
Motorists can still override the deterrence in an emergency but a test drive in a car fitted with the feature on Wednesday prompted the brakes to vibrate when danger was detected–leaving little doubt about what the car thought was safe.
"Ultimately, we want the driver to have the final control," an engineer said at an annual safety product demonstration at its Oppama facility in Yokosuka, near Tokyo.
Nissan has set a goal of halving fatalities and serious injuries involving its vehicles by 2015, compared with 20 years earlier, and ultimately preventing them all together.
Some Nissan cars already have a safety feature that helps distracted drivers stay inside a lane or keep a safe distance from the car in front with visual and audible warnings as part of what the company describes as a "virtual bumper" concept.
Nissan said it wanted to expand that concept to preventing side and rear collisions, along with the new brake-resistance device that could be introduced in some luxury models soon.
The car company, Japan’s third-biggest, is also working on a system to protect pedestrians, using anonymous global positioning system (GPS) signals from mobile phones to alert motorists to their presence.