The steering wheel is the most obvious method of changing a vehicle’s direction, but brakes can do this too. Infiniti uses this to its advantage with its Blind Spot Intervention system, which not only determines that the driver may collide with another car, but helps to bring the vehicle back. The system is available on the all-new Infiniti M.
“A number of companies offer warning systems,” says Ian Forsyth, director of corporate planning for Nissan Canada.
“We’ve added an intervention system which will correct your path and bring you back to try to keep you from whatever you’re about to crash into.”
The system, which works at speeds of 40 km/h and above, is integrated with a Blind Spot Warning system as part of an optional technology package. Sensors determine if a vehicle is alongside in the blind spot. If so, the system illuminates a warning light in the outside mirror.
“As long as you’re in a straight line and you do nothing, it just illuminates,” Forsyth says. “But if you start to move towards it, even if you put the turn signal on, once you reach a certain distance from the other car there is a chime that warns if you’re getting close.”
At this point, the car is still waiting for the driver to take evasive action. If he doesn’t, the intervention system lightly applies the brakes on one side of the car. This causes it to curve slightly, helping to bring it back to the centre of the driving lane. A camera used for the car’s lane departure warning system determines where it should be.
“It doesn’t come on as a full brake,” Forsyth says. “We’re not trying to slow the car down, just to change its path. You can feel the brakes come on and feel the car start to move. The driver still has full control of the steering, and you can override it. If for whatever reason you want to continue in that direction, you can. The brake application is quite light; it just intends to make the vehicle move in that path.” If the car does move erratically, such as on a slippery surface, the stability control system kicks in and immediately regains control.
“The idea is that it’s there if you miss seeing something,” Forsyth says. “It’s very handy on dark and rainy nights, if there’s a lot of construction and a lot to see. If you don’t know there’s a car beside you and if you start to move too close, it will move you back in, to align you properly and prevent a collision.”