Nissan, NASA and Mars

The NASA Mars Rover Opportunity landed on Mars January 25, 2004.

The NASA Mars Rover Opportunity landed on Mars January 25, 2004. It was expected to have a three-month mission, rolling around on the Red Planet.

And it is still going.

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NASA Image

Its twin, the Spirit, landed on Mars on January 3, 2004. Its last communication with Earth was on March 22, 2010.

Again, somewhat greater longevity than three months.

Clearly, NASA knows more than a little something about autonomous vehicles.

So it isn’t entirely surprising that Nissan North America and NASA are undertaking a five-year R&D partnership focused on autonomous vehicles.

Nissan researchers from its Silicon Valley Research Center will work with those at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA (which is essentially in Silicon Valley).

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Among the areas of focus are autonomous drive systems, human-machine interfaces, network-enabled applications, and software analysis and verification.

They’re also looking at remote operation of autonomous vehicles, and expect to have the first vehicle ready for testing by the end of 2015.

Given that the distance between Earth and Mars is 186.8-million miles, chances are good they’re going to have this terrestrial project nailed.