Nissan deepens NASA link for autonomous fleet tech

Japanese firm sees logistics /delivery progress through Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility

Nissan deepens NASA link for autonomous fleet tech
Nissan and NASA have extended research into autonomous mobility services


Nissan’s North American arm has bolstered collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Centre to on research and technology development for future autonomous mobility services including for urban logistic and delivery applications.

A year after the link broke cover at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, unveiling Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) based on NASA tecnology, the two organisations have a five-year research and development partnership.

This new phase in the joint collaboration will test the use of SAM for managing autonomous transportation services, ahead of public implementations.

Some industry observers have critiqued autonomous freight vehicle progress as being at the mercy of urban environments more complex than those found on open highways.

"We built SAM from technology NASA developed for managing interplanetary rovers as they move around unpredictable landscapes," Nissan Research Centre director Maarten Sierhuis says.

"Our goal is to deploy SAM to help third-party organisations safely integrate a fleet of autonomous vehicles in unpredictable urban environments, for example ride-hailing services, public transportation or logistics and delivery services.

"The final stage of our existing research agreement with NASA will bring us closer to that goal and test SAM in a working demonstration on public streets."

NASA Ames centre director Eugene Tu says one strategic NASA goal is to transfer the technology developed to advance NASA mission and program objectives to broader commercial and social applications.

"Using NASA's work in robotics to accelerate the deployment of autonomous mobility services is a perfect example of how the considerable work required to advance space exploration can also pioneer advances here on Earth," Tu adds.

Nissan says the research collaboration is part of its roadmap for the technology and business evolution of the automotive industry, called Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

This consists of three work streams of inter-related innovations in autonomous drive (Intelligent Drive), electrification (Intelligent Power) and infrastructure technologies (Intelligent Integration).


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