October 7, 2009

Nissan's robot cars mimic fish to avoid crashing

Nissan has developed a mini robotic car that can move autonomously in groups while avoiding crashing into obstacles (including other cars).

The Eporo, Nissan says, is the first robot car designed to move in a group by sharing its position and other information. The aim is to incorporate the technology into passenger cars to reduce accidents and traffic jams.

Although a group of Eporos may look like a gang of cybernetic Jawa, Nissan says the cars' design was inspired by the way fish move in schools.

An evolution of the bumblebee-inspired BR23C robot car unveiled last year, the Eporo uses Nissan's collision avoidance technology to travel in groups. Check out BR23C trying to get away from a Japanese lady in this video.

Eporo can dodge obstacles just like fish.

The automaker studied how large schools of fish can move without colliding. It says Eporo imitates three rules of fish movement: avoiding crashes, traveling side by side, and keeping close to other members of the school.

The robots use laser range finders and ultra-wideband radio to determine distance to obstacles. They also communicate with each other to form the most efficient group formation to maneuver through tight spots.

Eporo stands for "Episode O (Zero) Robot." That zinger of a mouthful means zero episodes, as in zero accidents and zero emissions.

Nissan intends to show off Eporo at the Ceatec trade show next week in Tokyo.

Original article by Tim Hornyak for Crave

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