FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Japan — With Nissan's new-generation self-driving system, safety and precision are enhanced. But hands-free isn't always hassle-free.
That is one takeaway from a road test of the automaker's ProPilot 2.0 technology as the industry scrambles to deliver self-driving vehicles.
Nissan's semi-autonomous driving package promises no-hands, auto-navigating highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp, automatically passing cars along the way. The system goes on sale in Japan this year but won't arrive in the U.S. for some time.
The 2.0 system makes several advances over the first-generation ProPilot that Nissan introduced in 2016. Chief among them is real hands-off driving and automated lane changing. The old system doesn't allow either, or take orders from the navigation system to drive to a destination.
For much of a test drive here in the foothills of Mount Fuji, the new-generation ProPilot did all this.
As the car moved along, I had the freedom to jot down observations in my reporter's notebook, take photos or just enjoy the scenery. The car expertly drove itself around every bend in the road, interrupting with an occasional warning for me to keep my eyes and attention front and center.
It changed lanes by itself around slower trucks and highway interchanges. While the car switches lanes, however, a driver must still keep a light touch on the wheel as a safeguard.