Nissan Motor Co. took the wraps off its new autonomous vehicle technology, ProPILOT, mid-July, confirming it will make its market debut in the all-new Serena minivan when that vehicle goes on sale in Japan late August.

ProPILOT, which is designed for highway use in single-lane traffic, employs advanced image-processing technology to gather data on road and traffic conditions, and uses it to control a vehicle’s steering, acceleration and braking.

To make the technology more user-friendly, Nissan is also employing a switch located on the steering wheel that allows the driver to deactivate the system.

The advanced image processing software built into the windshield-mounted mono camera has the ability to recognize lane markers and vehicles ahead in three-dimensional depth.

When activated, ProPILOT will automatically control the distance between your vehicle and cars in front of you using a speed preset by the driver (roughly between 30 and 100 km/h). The system also has a lane-keeping function that will keep the car in the middle of the lane by reading lane markers and providing steering input through corners.

In the event of the car in front coming to a full stop, ProPILOT will automatically apply the brakes. The vehicle will remain stopped even if the driver’s foot is off the brake pedal. ProPILOT will resume when the driver touches the steering-wheel mounted switch or lightly presses the accelerator.

ProPILOT will, for now, only be made available on the Serena in Japan, though the automaker says it plans to slowly have the tech filter down into other Nissans, including the European-market Qashqai compact crossover, beginning next year.

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Other markets expected to receive ProPILOT include the U.S. and China. There’s no word yet on when those markets will receive the technology or whether Canada will be included in the U.S. rollout, but it remains a possibility.

Nissan also plans to introduce multi-lane autonomous driving technology with automatic lane changes on highways by 2018; and full autonomous driving on urban roads with intersections by 2020.

(Nissan)