From NASA to the Driver’s Seat, Scientist Shapes Future of Nissan Autonomous Driving

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] Space was not the final frontier for this computer scientist.

    [​IMG]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – July 20, 2016

    Maarten Sierhuis, a native of The Netherlands who has lived in the U.S. since 1989, is the company's Director of its Research Center in Silicon Valley.

    Following the Nissan ProPILOT Autonomous Drive Set For Real World Japanese Trials story from last week, Nissan highlighted one of their scientists moving the company into the autonomous driving future. Here is that story.

    A former NASA researcher who once designed human-robot interactions and developed collaborative intelligent systems for space exploration now focuses his efforts a bit closer to home: the artificial intelligence that's helping power the future of Nissan's autonomous vehicles.

    But the passion that carried the robotics and artificial intelligence expert to the apogee of the U.S. space program hasn't cooled with his move to an earthly job as director of the Nissan Research Center (NRC) in California's Silicon Valley.

    Dr. Maarten Sierhuis:
    Sierhuis' has a people-first approach that's very much in line with Nissan's autonomous vehicle strategy, which is focused on providing drivers with new choices on the road toward a fully "self-driving" vehicle, which the automaker believes is at least a decade away.

    That means building cars and trucks in the coming years that will allow the driver to choose whether to turn over command to automated driving systems at various points during a journey, or remain in control throughout.

    Even when the driver is controlling the vehicle, the autonomous features must continue to monitor conditions and, in the event of imminent danger, assist the driver in avoiding an accident.

    Sierhuis, who holds a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from the University of Amsterdam, says his team will apply anthropologic learnings to the design of the autonomous systems  —  a strategy that he has employed since the early 1990s, first at NYNEX Corp. (now Verizon) and later at NASA.

    That means studying how humans interact with the systems and ensuring that we "build systems that are good for people," he says.

    The first of the autonomous drive technologies was introduced this July. Known as "ProPILOT," it allows cars to drive autonomously and safely in heavy, stop-and-go traffic on highways.

    In 2018, Nissan expects to unveil a "multiple-lane control" application that can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. In 2020, it plans to add the capability for the vehicle to navigate city driving and intersections without driver intervention.

    By that time, the Renault-Nissan Alliance plans to launch more than 10 models with significant autonomous driving functionalities in the U.S., Japan, Europe and China.
    Sierhuis, whose team in Silicon Valley is one of many Nissan and Renault teams working on the autonomous vehicle program around the globe, uses his daily hour-long commute from his home in San Francisco to the research center in Sunnyvale to show the advantages such a flexible system will offer.
    Drivers will have productive or relaxing options for that newfound down time: Nissan plans to roll out a suite of connected services over the next several years, including smartphone integration, access to environment and traffic information through on-board communications systems, and remote interaction with the vehicle via a mobile app.

    But Sierhuis, who says he has loved driving ever since his father taught him on jungle roads in South America as a teenager says some stretches of road will definitely call for a human hand on the wheel.

    For example, he recalls the "incredible experience" of driving the nearly 240 miles from Dhahran to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia with his father in the early 1980s.
    Contrasts like that help him explain autonomous driving to friends or acquaintances who say they aren't sure if they're comfortable turning over command of their vehicle to a machine — even one that's designed with their comfort and safety in mind. It's all about choice, he tells them.
    It is not ready yet but a decade from now, driving may become a completely passive experience. If you want it too.

    Japanese Nissan Serena Autonomous Vehicle Design Layout

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2016
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