Nissan Develops Bee-inspired Robot Car

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Nissan Motor engineers have developed a collision-avoidance system that draws inspiration from the way a bee flies and will demonstrate it next week built into a micro robotic car, the company said Friday.

The BR23C (Biomimetic car robot drive) system was developed with The University of Tokyo and is part of Nissan's safety project, which has as its goal to halve the number of fatalities or serious injuries in accidents involing its vehicles between 1995 and 2015.

Engineers began looking at bees because of their ability to fly at speed and almost never collide with other objects. They found bees create a personal buffer zone over which they maintain a 300-degree view through thier compound eyes and make adjustments in their flight path whenever an object is detected.

In the robot car, a laser range finder mimics the bee's eye and scans through 180 degrees for potential obstacles. When one is detected the car's computer detects the distance and danger and translates this into collision avoidance, Nissan said in a statement.

But there are limitations. Unlike a bee a car cannot move fly up or down and has to remain on the road. It is also limited by the degree to which its wheels can turn and, at speed, turn safely.

The buffer zone resembles Nissan's Safety Shield, a project the company has been working on for some years that is made up of six layers. They begin with systems that warn of possible danger on the road ahead and progress through systems that attempt to guide drivers away from imminent danger to systems that take over when a crash is unavoidable.

Nissan will demonstrate the system at next week's Ceatec exhibition that will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

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