As you know, carmakers are racing each other to put self-driving vehicles on the road, and they are getting closer and closer to that goal. Last year, Audi introduced limited Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities on its new A8, and now Nissan has claimed another world first – “hands-off” highway autonomous driving.

The new ProPILOT 2.0 system, which will debut in autumn this year in the Skyline (no, not the GT-R, but a rebadged Infiniti Q50 sold in Japan), is capable of navigated highway driving, meaning that it will assist the driver as soon as they get on a multi-lane highway, right up until their exit is reached.

To do so, the driver must set their destination in the navigation system, and the system will notify them when ProPILOT is available. From then on, they can simply press a button on the steering wheel, and the system will automatically keep the car in the centre of its lane and maintain a distance from the car in front.

Such functionality is similar to Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot that was introduced last year, but what’s new here is that the driver can completely take their hands off the steering wheel in single-lane highway driving. It’s not full-on Level 3, however, as they are still required to keep their eyes on the road and be prepared to take over when needed – a driver monitor will ensure that the driver’s attention is where it’s supposed to be.

The system will even suggest a lane change if the preceding car is travelling slower than the driver’s preset speed, and if the next lane has been freed up – or if there’s a fork in the road ahead. It will judge the appropriate timing to overtake or branch off, and the driver will need to put their hands back on the steering wheel and flick the indicator stalk to confirm, just like on Tesla’s (pre-2019 update) system.

All these capabilities are provided using a combination of cameras, radar sensors, sonar sensors, GPS and three-dimensional, high-definition map data to provide real-time, 360-degree information of the surrounding environment and the vehicle’s precise location on the road. Nissan says that the system uses this information to provide a smooth driving experience, similar to an experienced driver.