Nissan, NASA Team Up for Self-Driving Car Tech

Nissan and NASA have partnered to build an autonomous vehicle.

The car maker and space agency on Thursday announced a five-year R&D alliance between scientists at Nissan’s U.S. Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The team will focus on autonomous drive systems, human-machine interface solutions, network-enabled applications, and software analysis and verification, all of which will be aided by technology typically found in road and space travel.

“The work of NASA and Nissan—with one directed to space and the other directed to Earth, is connected by similar challenges,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement. “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.”

The first vehicle in the zero-emission fleet is expected to hit the test track by the end of 2015. Trials will run similarly to how NASA operates planetary rovers from a mission control center.

By 2020, Nissan hopes to introduce self-driving cars that can navigate “in nearly all situations,” including city driving, the company said.

NASA said it will benefit from Nissan’s expertise in innovative component technologies and research on the development of vehicular transport applications. The space agency will also gain access to prototype systems and a provision of test beds for robotic software.

“All of our potential topics of research collaboration with Nissan are areas in which Ames has strongly contributed to major NASA programs,” Ames Research Center director S. Pete Worden said.

For example, the group developed Mars rover planning software, put robots onboard the International Space Station, and built Next Generation air traffic management systems, “to name a few,” Worden boasted.

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“We look forward to applying knowledge developed during this partnership toward future space and aeronautics endeavors,” he said.

In the fall of 2013, Nissan promised to have “revolutionary,” commercially viable self-driving technology in multiple vehicles within seven years—right on target for 2020.

But the manufacturer has a few more tricks up its sleeves: Nissan in April unveiled a “super hydrophobic” paint that repels dirt, water, and oil.

By 2016, the Japanese giant intends to introduce self-parking cars; two years later, it will launch vehicles that can change lanes and automatically negotiate roadway hazards. Before the end of the decade, Nissan cars will be able to handle intersections without your help.

“This partnership brings together the best and brightest of NASA and Nissan and validates our investments in Silicon Valley,” Ghosn said.

In other self-driving car news, Mercedes showed off a slick autonomous vehicle prototype at CES 2015 this week.

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Nissan, NASA Team Up for Self-Driving Car Tech,2817,2474872,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121
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