In June of 2011 we wrote about the opening of the Renault-Nissan Alliance research facility in Silicon Valley (found here). The original intent was to use the facility for IT development, advanced engineering and technology recruitment. We hope that they have achieved some success on that last count especially.
The stated goals of this expansion in the region is to work on self-driving cars along with improvements in connected cars. Nissan is looking for collaborative partnerships – which we think is the only way that any auto manufacturer is going to get any insight into the much faster moving technology world, than the glacial pace of the automotive industry. Let’s face it – smart phones move through five generations in five years. Cars move through one generation in five years (and some are longer than that between updates).
Another area that this facility will explore is the Human Machine interface – an area that just about every automaker can use some improvement. Some can benefit from some significant improvements. We mentioned recently that some General Motors products (among others) are handing off the heavy lifting of the advanced technology (such as navigation) from the vehicle to the mobile phone. We absolutely feel that this is the wave of the future. There is no way that auto makers can keep up with the rapid advances in the technology arena. Someone finally realized that they don’t have to. Let the cell phone do the work, and create a proper interface between the car and the cell phone. In this way, all of your vital information moves with you from car to car, and you don’t have to enter duplicate information in all the cars that you own. We don’t see a broad implementation of this anytime soon. We do, though, hope to see these types of interfaces in vehicles from all brands (including Nissan) in the not too distant future.