In a shocking move, NASA has announced that they will be teaming up with the Japanese-based Nissan Motor Corp. over the next five years to develop autonomous technology. That’s right; NASA, the former pride of America, is working against American companies in the highly competitive, extremely lucrative autonomous race!
Their first vehicle collaboration is currently scheduled to be tested by the end of this year, Nissan said in a statement Thursday.
In order to get the project going, Nissan will provide an army of Nissan Leafs, which have built-in electronic hardware that makes building an autonomous vehicle easier. According to reports, the NASA/Nissan tandem will work out the autonomous kinks at two different locations: Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.
Forming a new research and development department, the partnership will work to develop technology in four key areas that include:
- Autonomous drive systems
- Network-enabled apps. These will allow the car to integrate into the environment and “communicate” with other vehicles.
- Human-machine interface solutions
- Software analysis and verification
Obviously, each organization in this powerhouse team has different agendas that just happen to coalesce in certain regards. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says, “The work of NASA and Nissan — with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges. 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.”
NASA, on the other hand, is hoping to develop a more suitable autonomous rover, specifically for Mars.
S. Pete Worden, director of the Ames Research Center, says, “All of our potential topics of research collaboration with Nissan are areas in which Ames has strongly contributed to major NASA programs. Ames developed Mars rover planning software, robots onboard the International Space Station and Next Generation air traffic management systems to name a few. We look forward to applying knowledge developed during this partnership toward future space and aeronautics endeavors.”
There is no doubt that this partnership will, in the end, create a great product that will sell in the market place. But did NASA really have to team up with a Japanese company? What are your thoughts on the move? Let us know in the comments below.