NASA and Nissan to Develop Self-Driving Car

NASA and Nissan have partnered up to develop a self-driving car that is set to be on the public market by 2020, reports Wired magazine. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Japanese car builders are working to synthesize their technologies in a way that will be beneficial to them both. Not only will this autonomous vehicle be able to navigate urban surroundings, but the car will even be able to one day take passengers on a drive on distant planets.

Dominating the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas this past week, self-driving vehicles were among the most popular new technologies offered. The efforts put forth by NASA and Nissan in order to create this self-driving vehicle are on the cutting edge of current technology. Combining both the autonomous technology created by teams at Nissan and the success of the man-machine relationship at NASA, this new vehicle will be able to tackle both difficult terrain as well as inner-city driving.

The cars currently being tested for this operation have zero emissions, as they are adapted from the electric Nissan Leaf. Testing for the cars shows a moderate success rate with current studies touting a capability of the vehicle to navigate areas on its own. Researchers from both organizations report that with their current success in the operation, the self-operating vehicle should be available to the public by 2020.

Yet, will the public be ready for such a drastic change in everyday life? Studies do not seem to think so. According to reports by International Business Times, half of people surveyed about the autonomous car would not feel comfortable driving in one. It seems there needs to be more research conducted in regards to the vehicles before consumers will be ready to hand the wheel over to the machines.

This study does not deter researchers from continuing to develop the next big thing in technological history. Rather, each team looks at this as an opportunity to learn from one another. With Nissan’s success in autonomous technology and NASA’s success in man-to-machine communications across great distances, the two have a lot to learn from one another with respect to their separate areas of expertise. Over the next five years, the teams hope to learn just enough from each other to be able to put their dreams not only to the test, but into the hands of consumers across the world.

Not only do NASA and Nissan plan to deliver these vehicles to customers on Earth, but their goals transcend terrestrial boundaries, as they hope to one day ferry passengers around distant planets as well. Fed up with their slow, albeit successful, communications across distances, NASA hopes that this development will help to improve their space exploration as they delve more into autonomous functionality in their machinery.

While the tech gurus at NASA and Nissan work to develop a self-driving car, Earthlings wait with bated breath to see the results of current testing. While the prospect of an autonomous vehicle may seem appealing to those working on the technology, it will take some major convincing for the public to feel comfortable driving in a self-thinking car. The five-year partnership between the two companies will, with any luck, reveal the next big step for mankind as the vehicles known today quickly become a thing of the past.

By Carly Szabo

Wired Magazine
Time Magazine
International Business Times