When it comes to autonomous vehicles, NASA and Nissan feel like they could learn a lot from each other, which is why the two have partnered up for the next five years to develop self-driving technology that could not only be used on Earth, but in space as well. A team composed of scientists from both organizations will be conducting their research at NASA Ames Research Center, the same place Google is doing similar research.
Nissan and NASA are teaming up to develop autonomous vehicles that will take us across town—or across Mars. The automaker and the space agency announced a five-year partnership today that will see their engineers working together to develop the robo-cars of tomorrow. The R&D effort, much of which will occur in Silicon Valley, could yield technology that will be put to use in passenger vehicles here on Earth and rovers on distant planets. Nissan and NASA will develop and test zero-emission autonomous cars (modified electric Nissan Leafs, naturally) at NASA’s Ames Research Center, which is just up the road from Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center in Sunnyvale, California. “This is a perfect blend of the capability of what the robotics folks at NASA Ames have and the autonomy that we bring,” says Maarten Sierhuis, the director of Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center, who also spent ten years as a NASA senior scientist. “The timing is right because we are ready to start testing” the ability to autonomously navigate city streets, which the automaker has pledged to have in cars on the market by 2020, and NASA can help it do that.