NASA, Kennedy tie up to help develop autonmous cars

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Washington, April 4 (IANS) Apart from undertaking various expeditions beyond Earth, scientsts at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have joined a partnership created to develop self-driving cars using radar, lasers, the Global Positioning System and computer vision.

In response to the US Department of Transportation's (DOT) request last year for proposals for a pilot programme to perfect the technology behind self-driving cars, the Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partnership was formed.

DOT selected the Central Florida partnership as one of 10 proving ground pilot sites around the country to encourage testing and communicating information about automated vehicle technologies.

NASA playing a role in developing automated vehicles is another example of applying the agency's technology to everyday life, Amy Houts Gilfriche, NASA Partnership Development manager in Center Planning and Development, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The space center also has a unique transportation testing capability, professional staff, instrumentation, processes and technical expertise to test existing autonomous vehicles and develop new sensors.

In addition, the Kennedy Centre may provide a controlled testing facility, which offers a contained environment with a vast road network and secure access.

While the extent of Kennedy's role has not yet been determined, the centre already has electric vehicle charging stations and could provide many different test sites for driving tests.

"The safety implications of this technology are tremendous. Some of the most significant factors to traffic crashes today are distracted and fatigued drivers. This is a unique opportunity to take that out of the equation and make our streets and highways safer," Gilfriche said.

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