Traffic collisions claim the lives of tens of thousands of people annually in the U.S.--and generate tons of waste from wrecked vehicles and clouds of emissions from traffic backups. Nissan Motors wants to halve the accidents its vehicles are involved in by 2015, and car company execs think robotic technology inspired by nature can help do the job.
Demonstrated using small robots last year, the Biomimetic Car Robot Drive was designed based on the compound eyes and 300-degree vision of bumblebees. The sensors use laser range-finders to detect obstacles up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) away.
Once installed in a vehicle, "the split second [the sensors] detect an obstacle, the car robot will mimic the movements of a bee and instantly change direction by turning [the car's] wheels at right angles or greater to avoid a collision," said Nissan's Toshiyuki Ando.
"The biggest difference to any current system is that the avoidance maneuver is totally instinctive."
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Photograph courtesy Kyodo via AP