Nissan Partners with NASA to Develop Autonomous Car Technology
Research begins with specially-outfitted Nissan Leafs.
Nissan announced a new partnership with NASA, aimed at commercializing autonomous drive systems for vehicles, and bringing some variant of autonomous drive technology to the market by the end of the year. Nissan and NASA engineers are teaming up to develop various technical and software aspects of autonomous drive systems. The co-developed systems will incorporate technology used in both road cars and NASA space applications.
A fleet of zero-emissions vehicles, most likely Nissan Leafs, will serve as the test bed for the technology, and will allow for a demonstration of remotely controlled transportation, similar to the method in which NASA controls the planetary rovers remotely from a mission control center. The first such car is projected to be ready for closed-course testing by the end of 2015.
Nissan previously set a goal of commercializing autonomous technology by the year 2020, with a current plan to introduce some of the technology by 2016. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that working with NASA will help speed up that process.
"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," Ghosn said in a statement.
Ghosn has previously announced the intent to bring traffic-jam assist and parking assist features by 2016, which still require a driver to be at the helm of the controls. By 2018, Nissan plans to have "multiple-lane controls" technology, which allows cars to assess on-road hazards and automatically shift lanes during highway driving. By 2020, the goal is to bring a fully autonomous vehicle to market with "intersection autonomy," which allows a vehicle to navigate cities and intersections without any driver input.