Nissan, NASA ink five-year autonomous vehicle pact

Nissan will work with NASA to perfect its self-driving vehicle tech.

Nissan has inked a five year research and development contract with NASA intended to advance the development of autonomous vehicles.

Per the terms of the agreement, Nissan's U.S. Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, will work hand-and-hand over the next five years to develop autonomous drive systems, human-machine interface solutions and create network-enabled applications.

The two parties will also test zero-emission autonomous vehicles (read self-driving versions of the Nissan Leaf) at the Ames facility. The test vehicles will be used as transport for materials, goods, payloads and people. The first of those test vehicles is expected to be in use by the end of the year.

Nissan will use the partnership as a springboard to its 2020 goal of having an autonomous vehicle available in retail showrooms. NASA will benefit in the area of vehicular transport applications, meaning future rovers could have Nissan technology under the hood.

"The work of NASA and Nissan - with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges," said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co. "The partnership will accelerate Nissan's development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020."

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