NASA and well-known Japanese car maker Nissan, have teamed up to create an autonomous vehicle to use on this planet, but also on other planets. The team of scientists from both Nissan and NASA, have decided to work together, on a 5 year plan to devise an autonomous vehicle technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center. This center is also the abode to Moffett Field, where Google is testing its self-driving auto prototypes. Soon the two will call up a fleet of zero-emission robotic cars, which may be Nissan Leafs (as in the photo above). We can expect to hear about the test drive results, sometime this year.

Nasa is hoping to send the next generation of rover to continue exploring the Red Planet in 2020.

With upgraded hardware and instruments, it will examine the Martian rocks and assess the potential of the environment for humans to live in one day and search for signs of Martian life.

It will identify and collect rock and soil samples, which it will eventually be able to send back to Earth intact with the help of another future spacecraft that will land on the surface and pick them up.

Dr Charles Elachi, director of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has previously said that collecting a rock sample and bringing it back to Earth is Nasa’s top priority.

Scientists are particularly interested in the samples so they can understand the hazards posed by Martian dust and demonstrate how oxygen can be created – details important to consider for human missions to Mars and the future colonisation of the planet.

The rover marks the next major step in fulfilling President Obama’s challenge of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

In an attempt to speed up the next rover, the European Space Agency

Nissan has tested self-driving cars for a while, such as the testing in 2013 of an autonomous Leaf in Japan. NASA’s CEO believes that they can create a more reliable human-machine interface. And while taking a few pointers on how self-driving technology can be used in other vehicles, autonomous rovers, driving on Mars may appear sooner than you think.

Some experts have raised concerns about how humans themselves will respond when sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

A recent report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology highlighted research that showed human drivers change their behaviour when using the same roads as autonomous cars.

Motorists were found to copy the driving style of the computer controlled cars by leaving less space between them and the vehicle in front, but were less able to react quickly.

Now Google has realised that if it wants its driverless cars to be able to compete with pushy human drivers on the open road, they too need to be more assertive.

After testing its autonomous vehicles over 700,000 miles of public road, Google’s engineers have tweaked the software that controls the cars to give them a slightly more aggressive edge.