This self-driving car thing isn’t just a fad. Sooner than not, cars that drive themselves will be on the road. Some automakers are now opening dedicated research facilities for them. Nissan is the latest.
Nissan typically sets up its R&D facilities in Japan, but now it’s branching out to regional centers for individual markets. Its latest is in Silicon Valley. Behind the thinking is that Northern California boasts some tech giants like Google and Facebook, and being in the middle of it will help Nissan interact with both companies like them and institutions with heavy influences out there like MIT.
“This lab is focused in reaching out beyond the cars to things that are beyond the automobile. It is really trying to think about the car in society and not just the car and the interior of it and I think that’s the future,” said MIT Media Lab Professor Alex Pentland in a statement.
Nissan will be looking at ways to integrate internet, existing infrastructure, and other self-driving cars into its network. That should allow its cars to be able to interact with other self-driving cars on the road from different automakers to be create a dialogue between them, keeping drivers safer. Nissan is also looking at research into Human Machine Interface, which will help better connect people with their cars. In the video below, you can see what look to be Darth Vader versions of Furbies called Eporos. They move around one another freely like a school of fish, yet they never touch. Nissan hopes to leverage similar technology in its cars.
“We hope to be an open center and have collaborations with the Silicon Valley attitude and with the Silicon Valley spirit,” said Research Director for Nissan Research Center Silicon Valley Dr. Maarten Sierhuis in a statement. ”Nissan is well positioned I think to take the next step and be a leader in autonomous driving and connected vehicles and that is very exciting.”