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NASA and Nissan Team Up to Build Self-Driving Cars. Sadly, They Won’t Fly.

Probably. (Definitely.)

1280px-2011_Nissan_Leaf_SL_--_10-28-2011 copy

Flying cars aren’t going to make the October 21, 2015 Back to the Future Part II deadline, but self-driving cars just might come close if NASA has anything to say about it.

While other companies like Google are looking to build a car that drives itself from the ground up, Nissan wants to develop a way to add that technology as an upgrade to their existing line of vehicles. In a new partnership with NASA and their Ames Research Center, they’ll work together on shared research that will benefit Nissan cars here on Earth and robots in space.

The Mars rovers currently playing the slowest round of demolition derby ever up on the red planet require constant manual control to get around, so self-driving systems could go a long way towards improving robotic space missions. Pete Worden, the Ames Research Center director, told Wired, “We have a rover on Mars. It is not very autonomous. As we go deeper into space, into more and more dangerous locations, we need to add that autonomy.”

But for us Earthlings, hopefully this partnership will lead to faster development of safe automated driving systems and lower costs of implementation. So at least we have some kind of fancy car progress in our mundane 2015 “future.”

Drivers? Where we’re going, we don’t need drivers.

(via Gizmodo and NASA, image via wikimedia/NASA/our own edits)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.