NASA + Nissan Partnering For Zero-Emissions Autonomous Cars

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The LEAF’s vaunted manufacturer, Nissan Motors, is partnering with NASA (yes, that NASA) to develop a fleet of zero-emissions autonomous cars, as per recent reports.

Said partnership is structured as a 5-year program intended to develop and show off proof-of-concept remote operation of autonomous transport vehicles.

Nissan NASA

Owing to the fact that NASA has been involved in the field of autonomous-driving technology for a while now, the move isn’t terribly surprising on its side — the announcement is a bit more surprising as far as Nissan goes though, who’d have thunk it?

Here it is in the words of the press release (via GAS2):

Researchers from the two organizations will test a fleet of zero-emission autonomous vehicles at Ames to demonstrate proof-of-concept remote operation of autonomous vehicles for the transport of materials, goods, payloads and people. For NASA, these tests parallel the way it operates planetary rovers from a mission control center. The first vehicle of that fleet should be testing at the facility by the end of 2015.

“The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges,” stated 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.”

According to Ghosn, the company will start offering “autonomous features” sometime after the start of 2016. By 2020, said self-driving features will ideally be capable of self-navigating in nearly all environments , including urban ones, according to the CEO.

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

If I had to take a wild guess here I’d say that it’s very likely that we’ll see Nissan make use of the results of this partnership before NASA — I’m not expecting to see self-driving transport vehicles on Mars (or the Moon I guess) anytime within my life. Cheers though.

Image Credit: Nissan

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

3 thoughts on “NASA + Nissan Partnering For Zero-Emissions Autonomous Cars

  • hh

  • Mr Ayre,
    There are already vehicles on Mars that are autonomous transport. While their loads are not very large compared to earth based vehicles they do carry testing equipment and pick up mineral and chemical samples. The autonomy is necessary due to the time delay for control signals, and times when contact can not be maintained.
    The systems are basic compared to what is now being used or considered for automobiles, but considering that they were sent there many years ago they are a part of the forerunners of this type of technology.
    Nissan is quite fortunate to be able to coordinate with one of the initial developers of these types of systems and the experience that NASA brings to the table.

  • I wonder why NASA, paid for with US tax dollars, isn’t working with one or more American auto companies. Maybe they could possibly make their data available as open source to all auto companies. I wonder what their motivation is to work with only one company that happens to be a foreign company. Google and Tesla might be able to benefit from NASA’s data, experience and approach.

Comments are closed.