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Steer clear of accidents, global warming
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Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 04 October 2007 10:16
Steer clear of accidents, global warming
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: October 4, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
 CHIBA, Japan--The next tool in fighting global warming--and traffic accidents--is the car navigation system, according to Nissan.

The Japanese automaker has launched a major effort to better exploit navigation systems--which are essentially on-board computers--and contemporary communications infrastructures to improve the safety of their cars and boost gas mileage, company executives said this week at Ceatec, the large Japanese trade show taking place outside of Tokyo.

On one level, it's a public relations effort by the company to present itself as a green automaker. But Nissan also thinks the features can help differentiate its cars in the marketplace. Cars coming from other manufacturers will likely start getting some of these features too, but it doesn't hurt being early. The company's goal is to reduce traffic accidents with its cars to nearly zero by 2030 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent by 2050.

One application, currently being tested on taxis in Beijing, feeds current traffic data gathered by sensors in other cars on the road to drivers to help them avoid traffic jams.

In early tests, Nissan says the application cuts carbon dioxide emissions by about kilogram a day. That's because driving at a steady pace, rather than in stop-and-go traffic, improves mileage.

"How people will use cars in the social infrastructure is a key factor for the future," said Mitsuhiko Yamashita, executive vice president of Nissan, during a presentation at the show. "By alleviating congestion, we can improve carbon dioxide pollution."

But the early data also indicates that the drivers using the applications were on the road 20 percent less than the average cab traveling between similar points.

"You are getting to your destination faster," said Minoru Shinohara, senior vice president and general manager of the Technology Development Division at Nissan during a separate interview. More   Comment in the Forums
 
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