YOKOHAMA, Japan — The Japan rollout of ProPilot 2.0 technology shows how Nissan Motor Co. is thinking about new design directions for the futuristic self-driving technologies it wants as a centerpiece of its DNA.
Design chief Alfonso Albaisa said the front fascia of the Nissan Skyline sedan — the basis for the Infiniti Q50 in the U.S. — had to be extended and smoothed to accommodate all the new sensors needed for the ProPilot 2.0 system. Sensors under the sheet metal don't see well through fancier creasing and more angular styling.
"We had to change the outside because of the inside," Albaisa said here at the launch of the face-lifted Skyline, the first nameplate incorporating ProPilot 2.0. "There's a lot of technology in the front of this thing. Especially on the cheeks. A whole bunch of things had to happen."
The Skyline is the first nameplate getting the ProPilot upgrade that enables truly hands-free, auto-navigating highway driving. The changes to the front styling are barely noticeable but necessary for making the technology work seamlessly.
"What happens with a lot of these sensors is they don't like creases, and they don't like undercuts, because it defracts their wavelengths," Albaisa said.
"You'll find that on a lot of the cars coming, probably on all brands, to be honest. It prefers clean surfaces so the sensors and the lidar and everything can send out very clean waves."
More design changes will occur inside the self-driving vehicles.
A podlike infrared camera sits in the middle of the Skyline's dashboard. It monitors the driver to make sure the person behind the wheel is alert and ready to take command in an emergency, even when the vehicle is driving itself.