NASA to take Nissan’s auto car to Mars

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Nissan’s zero-emission autonomous car is all set to be shipped to Mars. You read that right. By the end of 2015, Nasa plans to test an autonomous car by Nissan (prototypes of the Nissan Leaf?!) at its Ames Research Center.

Researchers from Nasa and Nissan will test a fleet of zero-emission autonomous vehicles that can be used to transport materials, goods, payloads — and people. NASA says the tests will be in the lines of tests that engineers perform to manage rovers in space from a mission control center on earth.

The collaboration

Nissan has successfully tested its autonomous vehicles on the roads. This partnership will open Nasa’s knowledge of remotely manning autonomous vehicles. Nasa, on the other hand, plans to put to use Nissan’s autonomous technology that helps detect obstacles in road conditions. This knowledge will help Nasa better its rovers that need to manoeuvre through craters and rocks on Mars. Such technology is likely to help Nasa further reduce remote human interference to operate its rovers. It is reported that Nasa and Nissan will work together to better Nissan’s autonomous drive systems, human-machine interfaces and network-enabled apps for better communication between vehicles.

A couple of interesting Nissan patents that can help Nasa in its Mars exploration may include US 8847787. Titled “Vehicle Intersection Warning System and Method”, this patent discusses a technology that determines intersections on a road based on data about the host vehicle and a remote vehicle in a way that can predict a possible collision. This system is intended to create and issue warnings to drivers and help avoid potential collision. With Nasa’s rovers often encountering craters and boulders across the surface of Mars, such technology will help them improve navigation.

A host vehicle equipped with an intersection monitoring system coordinating about a remote vehicle with a global positioning system. Source: Patent US 8847787

A host vehicle equipped with an intersection monitoring system coordinating about a remote vehicle with a global positioning system.                                    Source: Patent US 8847787

Nissan’s patent application 20140303822 can prove even more helpful to Nasa. Nissan filed this application in hope of protecting a hybrid vehicle control device that includes an engine start control section to detect or predict the slip polarity of a second clutch transitioning to a negative slip. This system is capable of preventing a shock caused by hybrid electric vehicles when a momentary pulse torque is transmitted through the second clutch after starting the engine.

An illustration of the target transitioning in running mode. Source: Patent application US 20140303822

An illustration of the target transitioning in running mode.
Source: Patent application US 20140303822

Another patent, US 7437226, describes a method of constructing an artificial mark for autonomous driving.  This is especially useful for rovers to be able to return to their stations with minimal human intervention.

Experiments of artificial mark recognition. Source: Patent US 7437226

Experiments of artificial mark recognition.
Source: Patent US 7437226

This is an exciting phase with a potential explosion of self-driving cars set to come into the market. While this technology coming into action, we can expect better safety, not to mention do its bit such as drive around disabled people to their destination without a hitch. Nissan hopes to roll out autonomous driving technology to the masses sometime between 2016 and 2020, and considering the level of research at Ames (these were the people who developed the Mars rover software and robots on-board the International Space Station) it looks like this partnership could very well end up as a fruitful one.

(Featured image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2011_Nissan_Leaf_SL_–_10-28-2011.jpg)

Annie Sailo
Annie Sailo

Analyze – that’s the catch word for Annie. From analyzing personalities to every aspect of the intellectual property industry, her blogs offer a comprehensive view on the patent world.


Priyabrata Barman
Priyabrata Barman

Priyabrata's quest to understand the secret of life has fuelled his passion to explore. A new gadget freak and a diehard technocrat, he enjoys decoding every possible technology that the industry codes.


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