NRC-SV / Nissan Research Center Sillicon Valley
NRC-SV was established February 2013 in accordance with Nissan’s global strategy of extending R&D activities to and localizing them in strategic markets. NRC-SV focuses on AI (artificial intelligence) research enabling autonomous vehicles to perform socially acceptable and human-like maneuvers and research on vehicles connected to networks (connected car). Either case involves new technical challenge. NRC-SV aims to develop new vehicles and new automobile society while working together with research institutes and companies in the region.
Why established in Silicon Valley?
Be on the advanced technology of Software development
Silicon Valley is internationally recognized as the center of advanced software technology and telecommunication network technology. The key for companies competing in the autonomous vehicle and connected car fields is developing software enabling them to put their technologies to real and practical use particularly data analysis software and artificial intelligence (AI) software. Accordingly, Nissan established NRC-SV with the aim of developing such software in an area representing the forefront in software development and the rapidly employing it in automobiles.
Silicon Valley as an experimental environment
One of the advantages to setting up a research center in Silicon Valley is the experimental environment the region provides. In California, prior testing is permitted for road test of autonomous vehicles. It’s difficult to reproduce actual driving environments through simulation and to get accurate results using simulators. Developed functions must ultimately be validated in actual driving environment. Complete familiarization with these environments is nothing less than the key factor in defining research issues and promoting research development.
Research at NRC-SV is mainly being performed in three field. Particular emphasis is focused on developing AI techniques that will enable autonomous vehicles to be operated even in urban areas. 1) Autonomous Vehicles 2) Connected cars and services 3) Human-machine interface and interaction
Autonomous vehicle research
The future will see autonomous vehicles the roads and driving environments with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, etc. in many areas. Accordingly, they will need to be able to move around freely while at the same time anticipating the movements of other road users, making compromises in manner satisfactory to all concerned. That is, for society to accept autonomous vehicle it will be necessary for them to interpret and potentially reproduce judgments and actions that human beings make instinctively and automatically. In order to develop such vehicles, every day NRC-SV personnel observe and improve their understanding of driving behavior in the city and use their understanding as basis for developing software that will enable autonomous vehicles to behave “intelligently.”
Software engineering for Autonomous vehicles
Autonomous vehicles software is written with several thousand source code lines. Multiple modules written in these codes are synchronized so as to function with each other, enabling software engineering to perform its role of developing programs that function as intended. The best practices of software engineering in Silicon Valley have been introduced into NRC-SV and used in the development process, with the aim of maximizing efficiency and effectiveness of using a driving simulator (Fig.2) to verify operations, then using the acquired data in carrying out running tests using test vehicles.
Connected car research
Techniques are being developed aimed at furthering data-driven mobility, by providing drivers with appropriate information about timing, places, and methods. In attempting to discover new value for mobility, we are integrating a variety of methods and techniques from both within and outside the center, including large-scale data analysis, mobile application development, cloud services, networks, IoT (Internet of Things) and telematics.