Nissan and NASA shake hands to develop autonomous vehicles image

Nissan, Japan’s second-largest automaker and the well-known US space agency NASA have agreed to a five-year deal that would put them jointly at work to spur the development of self-driving car technologies.

According to a recent Nissan statement, the duo will be hard at work into 2015, with the first vehicle to use hardware and software developed inside the pact to begin scheduled tests before the end of the year. The deal sees Nissan coming up with a fleet of battery powered Nissan Leafs, the world’s best selling electric car, and development is carried out in two locations: Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. The Leaf will be used not only because it’s eco friendly, but also because its advanced electric powertrain already provides the electronic hardware that eases the construction of autonomous vehicles.

The research and development partnership will focus on four distinct areas: autonomous drive systems, including any mechanical part linked to the acceleration, braking and steering procedures; the necessary human-machine interface aspects; network-enabled solutions, meaning applications that enable the vehicle to safely establish its position and navigate areas where other vehicles drive and the software analysis and verification functions.

“The work of NASA and Nissan — with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges,” claims Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. You might wonder why a space agency is focusing on autonomous drive projects, but the answer is simple. NASA sees self-driving cars as important because it derive the necessary technology for its own exploration vehicles – they will need to be able to function autonomously if they loose contact with Earth.

Via Automotive News