Think back with us for a second on almost any ocean-themed Discovery Channel show. Picture the fish swimming in schools, moving in harmony together in the same direction, never touching one another, avoiding obstacles with single collective motions. Now take a look at Nissan’s EPORO robots. The automaker is using fish schooling behaviors as a way to program drivers’ safety technologies of the future.
The EPORO robots were designed back in 2009, but have finally come to the US as part of Nissan’s new Silicon Valley R&D center. Engineer Susumu Fujita created the machines to emulate fish behaviors, and the robots are able to follow each other in a line, school together in a mass and even avoid obstacles that step in the way.
The mission of these little robots has an application to our automotive world, though. Nissan already makes use of blind spot intervention and collision avoidance systems, built into many of its vehicles and the EPORO bots are intended to help perfect those tools. If one robot slows down, the next robot slows with it. If one stops, another does, too. Nissan’s inclusion of these similar collision mitigation technologies in its robots should aid the automaker in developing even more sophisticated systems for real-world driving situations. The technology may also assist in efficiently avoiding traffic jams, if the cars are able to migrate away from obstacles together in a fluid movement.
While we’re still a few years away from owning autonomous cars, the technology included in Nissan’s EPORO bots is one small step toward that goal, and one giant leap toward safer roads with humans behind the wheel. Now, if only would grab one of these cute little guys to run around our garages…