Nissan's autonomous driving expert says air traffic controller-style 'mobility managers' will work remotely to support self-driving cars

Fleets of self-driving cars will be helped to negotiate tricky traffic obstacles by ‘mobility managers’ in a remote control centre, according to Nissan’s expert in artificial intelligence (AI).

The idea is to deploy human intelligence remotely to allow a vehicle to keep moving in a situation when self-driving sensors can’t work out what to do.

"These are like air traffic controllers, they facilitate the flow, rather than control the vehicle remotely with a joystick," says Maarten Sierhuis, director of the Nissan Research Center and a former NASA engineer.

Nissan is using technology that was developed by NASA to help robot vehicles negotiate the surface of Mars.

Nissan to start autonomous vehicle demos in Britain

Once the ‘mobility manager’ has solved a traffic problem for one self-driving car, the solution is then communicated to the Cloud, where it can be shared with other self-driving cars that will then be able to negotiate the obstacle without referring back.

The buzzword for the technology is ‘Distributed Artificial Intelligence’ in which cars, the Cloud and humans share their intelligence to solve a problem.

Nissan calls it Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) and has been testing its operation on a fleet of disguised prototypes in California, US.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the self-proclaimed ‘best car in the world’, is back. Or is it?

Join the debate


10 May 2017
A few years ago a friend was walking their dog down a country lane that finished at the gate to a field. She saw a car drive past then stop at the gate. She heard arguing in the car and then saw the driver get out and launch something into the field with the comment "Lousy piece of f#@$£&ng JUNK!!!" then get back in the car, turn around then drive back up the road at a fair old lick. She did find the mangled sat nav not long afterwards.

It will be YEARS before I trust autonomous cars.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals