Nissan & NASA Extend Research Into Autonomous Mobility Services

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Two impressive leaders in technology are applying the cutting-edge tools of modern science and engineering to bring the future into our daily lives in a safer, quicker, more effective way. Nissan North America and the NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley are collaborating more deeply on research and tech development for future autonomous mobility services.

This is an update to an existing research collaboration between NASA and Nissan that builds on the terms of their five-year research and development partnership to focus more on testing “the use of SAM for managing autonomous transportation services, ahead of public implementations,” something Nissan has been keen to lead on (as a lot of companies are). The expansion continues a new scope of activities into 2019.

“In January 2017, at CES in Las Vegas, Nissan introduced Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM), a new platform for managing fleets of autonomous vehicles, developed from NASA technology. This new phase in the joint collaboration will build on that success to further develop the technology and test the use of SAM for managing autonomous transportation services, ahead of public implementations,” a new press release from Nissan states.

“We built SAM from technology NASA developed for managing interplanetary rovers as they move around unpredictable landscapes,” said Maarten Sierhuis, director of the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley. “Our goal is to deploy SAM to help third-party organizations safely integrate a fleet of autonomous vehicles in unpredictable urban environments, for example, ride-hailing services, public transportation or logistics, and delivery services. The final stage of our existing research agreement with NASA will bring us closer to that goal and test SAM in a working demonstration on public streets.”

NASA’s involvement in supporting a commercial entity may seem odd at first glance, but the space agency notes that this fits perfectly within its mission. “One of NASA’s strategic goals is to transfer the technology developed to advance NASA mission and program objectives to broader commercial and social applications,” said Eugene Tu, Center Director, NASA Ames. “Using NASA’s work in robotics to accelerate the deployment of autonomous mobility services is a perfect example of how the considerable work required to advance space exploration can also pioneer advances here on Earth.”

Naturally, this type of work is critical to Nissan’s future, as practically every automotive company says that the future of transportation is autonomous. The companies that get there first win the rat AV race and will be rewarded accordingly. There must also just be something fun about working on the future of tech. “The research collaboration with NASA is part of Nissan’s roadmap for the technology and business evolution of the automotive industry, called Nissan Intelligent Mobility. This roadmap consists of three workstreams of inter-related innovations in autonomous drive (Intelligent Drive), electrification (Intelligent Power) and infrastructure technologies (Intelligent Integration). SAM represents a major milestone in Nissan Intelligent Integration, providing the infrastructure to safely and seamlessly integrate autonomous mobility services into existing urban environments.”

This extended NASA partnership seems to add to Nissan’s growing reputation as an innovation leader. Will it lead to compelling commercial products and success? We’ll see. In the meantime, any more thoughts on the partnership?

Related Stories:

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, and Creative Writing. She has been closely following the solar and wind industries for nearly 20 years and the EV industry for more than a decade. Pronouns: She/Her

Cynthia Shahan has 950 posts and counting. See all posts by Cynthia Shahan