Nissan’s engineers have been inspired by the animal kingdom as they develop new technologies that will shape the future of mobility. One of Nissan’s longer term R&D goals is to achieve virtually zero fatalities and serious injuries among occupants of its vehicles. The research team created the EPORO (EPisode 0 Robot), utilizing Laser Range Finder (LRF) technology—inspired by the bumblebee’s compound eyes that can see more than 300-degrees—along with other advanced technologies. Six EPORO units communicate among themselves to monitor each other’s positions to avoid collisions as well as be able to travel side-by-side or in single-file, thus exhibiting the behavior of fish swimming in schools.
A school of fish doesn’t have lines to help guide the fishes, but they manage to swim extremely close to each other. So if cars can perform the same type of thing within a group and move accordingly, we should be able to have more cars operate with the same width roads. This would lead to more cars, but with less traffic congestion,” Futami explained. EPORO can also communicate with one another at intersections, deciding which would go and which would stop, thus eliminating the need for traffic signals.
Prior to the development of EPORO, Nissan created the Biometric Car Robot Drive, or BR23C, which mimics the uncanny collision-avoidance ability of bumblebees. It was a joint project with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at Japan’s renowned University of Tokyo.The BR23C calculates the distance to the obstacle(s), then immediately sends a signal to a microprocessor, which translates this information and moves or repositions the vehicle accordingly to avoid a collision.