Automotive

Nissan and NASA team up for autonomous drive vehicle development

Nissan and NASA team up for au...
The pact will produce a zero-emissions vehicle (Image: Nissan)
The pact will produce a zero-emissions vehicle (Image: Nissan)
View 5 Images
Ames director S. Peter Worden and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)
1/5
Ames director S. Peter Worden and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)
The agreement covers a five-year partnership (Image: Nissan)
2/5
The agreement covers a five-year partnership (Image: Nissan)
The goal of the pact is to develop autonomous driving technologies with terrestrial and space applications (Image: Nissan)
3/5
The goal of the pact is to develop autonomous driving technologies with terrestrial and space applications (Image: Nissan)
The pact will produce a zero-emissions vehicle (Image: Nissan)
4/5
The pact will produce a zero-emissions vehicle (Image: Nissan)
The pact will carry on until 2020 (Image: Nissan)
5/5
The pact will carry on until 2020 (Image: Nissan)
View gallery - 5 images

It may seem akin to an alliance between a railway and a submarine manufacturer, but Japanese automaker Nissan has signed a pact with US space agency NASA to develop self-driving cars. The five-year agreement announced last week covers a partnership on research and development of autonomous vehicle systems and their commercial applications.

The agreement involves scientists and engineers at Nissan's US Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA's Ames Research Center, also located in Silicon Valley. Though such a partnership may not seem logical, NASA has, in fact, been in the car business for over forty years, ever since the first Lunar Rover went for a spin during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. Since then, the space agency has been developing more sophisticated versions for lunar and planetary excursions, including the nuclear-powered Curiosity Mars rover, which is essentially a semi-autonomous 4X4 with six wheels.

"The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges," says Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Company. "The partnership will accelerate Nissan's development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020."

Nissan says that the partnership will focus on the development of autonomous driving systems, human-machine interfaces, network-based applications, and software analysis that could have uses both on Earth and in space. The ultimate goal is to produce zero-emission proof-of-concept vehicles capable of self-navigation in difficult situations, such as the mountains of Mars or driving cross town in the rush hour.

Source: Nissan

View gallery - 5 images
2 comments
Milton
very cool.
Bob Flint
Mr. Carlos Ghosn, you should have used the Titan XD not the wimpy leaf if you are going to get respect & attention on the road for this pact of development and eventual success of autonomous vehicles. Because most other drivers are of the dog eat dog variety "I own the road" mentality. Besides probably quadrupling the range you could get from the potential storage space for the battery packs. Also remember that autonomous vehicles must be programmed to obey all road rules and speed limits. So much for anything above 70mph is wasted on "autonomous vehicles" not to mention that the future interface between other manufacturer's will most likely be that the more aggressive one will survive, certainly arriving first.