NASA scientists have successfully test driven Japanese automaker Nissan’s all-electric driverless car, which uses robotics software originally developed for planetary rovers to operate autonomously.
For the past year, NASA’s Ames Research Centre and Nissan North America have been collaborating on the development of autonomous driving technologies that could one day be used in consumer vehicles, robotic rovers on Mars and other space exploration missions.
The technical partnership allows researchers to develop and test autonomy algorithms, concepts, and integrated prototypes for a variety of vehicular transport applications from rovers to self-driving cars.
Scientists observed testing of Nissan’s all-electric LEAF vehicle as it performed safe autonomous drives across the centre.
The Nissan LEAF vehicle is equipped with cameras, sensors and cellular data networking, and uses robotics software originally developed for Ames’ K-10 and K-REX planetary rovers to operate autonomously.
“This is not only a demonstration of the transfer of space technology to industry, but also the application of their research back to our space technology, with additional uses for our unmanned aircraft systems research here at Ames,” said Eugene Tu.
“This is a perfect example of technology literally driving exploration and enabling future space missions,” she said.