NASA shows off first model of driverless rover that can drift endlessly

15 Apr 2015

With expectations of one day driving on the surface of Mars and beyond, NASA has unveiled the first model of its amazing driverless car that can drive sideways if necessary.

The car has been in the making for the last few months with NASA first announcing it was to partner with Japanese car manufacturers Nissan to build such a car in January, and now it has come to fruition early.

Known simply as the Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV), the car, which resembles a souped-up golf buggy, is anything but slow and cumbersome, as was clear when the space agency showed off what it could do at its Johnson Space Center.

Fully electric, the car is capable of achieving cruising speeds that would match modern commercial cars, but has a number of features that you’re unlikely to find on, say, a Nissan Leaf electric car.

For instance, one of its key requirements was for it to be able to operate remotely, which, as their video shows, allows a passenger to sit in it while it spins around a track with ease.

Equally impressive is the car’s handling, which, again unlike standard cars, can turn its wheels at an angle, allowing it to spin around on itself as well as perform drifts that would make the cast of Fast & Furious sit up and take notice.

More developments are likely to be added to the MRV in the months and years to come, which will no-doubt excite future astronauts who will one day hope to drive one.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic