Nissan Motor Corporation’s Heroes of Innovation series shines the light on some of the company's unsung heroes who — like thousands of their colleagues worldwide — strive every day to fulfill our purpose of driving innovation to enrich people's lives.
An eye for safety
The next time your Nissan's headlights help you avoid a deer crossing the road at night, you might have Kyle Martus to thank. Martus, a Nissan engineer based in North America, evaluates the effectiveness of headlights. His careful eye validates performance to ensure the headlights on new vehicles give crisp illumination of the road ahead, even on the darkest nights. Individuals like Martus help foster the innovations that benefit Nissan drivers every day.
Martus works in Nissan's system/component test group at Nissan's technical center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. In addition to headlights, his team also evaluates system components like wipers and doors to ensure they serve the diverse needs of Nissan customers in North America.
His work schedule on test days can be quite different from that of other engineers.
"I typically head out around 10 p.m. with a lamp designer riding along," Martus says. "It's a qualitative test, so I'm hyper-focused on making sure the lighting is where it's supposed to be. Illuminating a curvature in the road, for example, or supporting natural visibility without streaking."
To avoid unveiling next-gen products ahead of schedule, the test vehicles are usually camouflaged and have special license plates. But Martus sometimes meets unintended spectators: local wildlife.
"I've encountered my share of deer and other wildlife," Martus laughs. "The deer seem a lot less interested in figuring out what future product I'm evaluating."
After driving an hourlong loop, Martus gives detailed feedback to Nissan's design and engineering department, which then adjusts lighting performance and software programming as needed. He sometimes travels nearly 600 miles south to Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, to ensure product quality. It's all for the sake of improving safety in line with Nissan's ultimate goal of zero fatalities.
Watch the animated version of Martus' story in "Heroes of Innovation." And stay tuned for the next episode featuring two more Nissan colleagues.