Nissan and Nasa have formed a five-year partnership to advance autonomous vehicle systems and plans for putting self-drive vehicles on the road.
Researchers from Nissan will focus on autonomous drive systems, human-machine interfaces, network-enabled applications and software analysis, all involving sophisticated hardware and software used in road and space applications.
The two organisations will also test a fleet of zero-emission autonomous vehicles to demonstrate a concept for the remote operation of autonomous vehicles to transport materials, goods and people.
For Nasa, these tests parallel the way it operates planetary rovers from a mission control centre.
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"The first vehicle of that fleet should be tested by the end of the year. The work of Nasa and Nissan - one directed to space and the other directed to Earth - is connected by similar challenges," says Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan has set 2020 as the timeframe for the introduction of autonomous drive vehicles that have the ability to navigate in nearly all situations, and that includes the most complex situation - city driving.
Nasa will benefit from Nissan's skills in innovative component technologies for autonomous vehicles, shared research for development of vehicle transport, access to prototype systems and providing test beds for robotic software.
"All of our potential topics of research collaboration with Nissan are areas in which Ames has strongly contributed to major Nasa programmes," said Nasa's Ames, California, research centre director Pete Worden.
"Ames developed Mars rover planning software, robots on board 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 endeavours."