Last time I wrote about some good looking trailers at the Mid-America Trucking Show a few weeks ago. The other day I saw some unbelievably nice looking tankers… in a TV commercial. It’s a Nissan Rogue ad promoting the builder’s ProPilot Driver Assist, which enables limited hands-free driving with adaptive cruise control.
The situation is a 30-something couple in a new Rogue on a modern four-lane urban freeway at night. They’re approaching a tall cable-stay bridge, and what’s ahead but a pair of semis. One’s in the Number 4 (far right) lane where it should be, and the other’s in the Number 2 (second from left) lane where it shouldn’t, if this were California, but it apparently isn’t.
But they sure are handsome rigs, all black with white neon highlights. They’re identical and they stay perfectly within their lanes. Hey, this is a commercial and a lot can be done with computer-generated graphics. At least I think that’s what they are.
Anyway, the lady’s driving and the two rigs ahead are cause for concern, at least to her husband (boyfriend?). Their Rogue is in the Number 3 (third from left) lane and coming up on the two rigs. But she’s cool. “It’s OK, I’m on it,” she says confidently, using lines from the latest Star Wars movie that the commercial also promotes.
She activates ProPilot with a button on the steering wheel, and the Rogue scans ahead, remains in its lane, and takes them right past those fearsome big trucks — “right down the center” — while her hands are barely touching the steering wheel (it’s not a self-driving system, Nissan warns).
And she smiles because ProPilot handles the situation and makes her look good (which she does anyway). Even their little Yorkshire terrier in the back seat approves with two sharp barks.
Know what? I’d love to have ProPilot on my ’99 Lincoln Continental. It's bravely free of any “connectivity,” and until now that’s been fine with me. I’d almost buy a new Nissan Rogue or Altima, which also has the optional feature, just to get it — not to pass fearsome big rigs but to remove some tedium from a long drive.
I’ll bet a lot of truck drivers would also like to have some kind of auto-steering, and someday soon they will, from what autonomous-driving experts are saying.
As for those two tanker rigs, if they’re more than digital creations, I’d like to see them up close. Say, maybe they’ll be at the next Louisville truck show.