Car-Parking Tech Could Unearth the Ocean's Hidden Resources

By Bryan Lufkin on at

Sometimes the best ideas come from thinking far, far outside the box. That’s what Nissan and Japan’s marine science agency did with their new deep sea rover. To build it, engineers used the same tech as a park-assisting car, which is now helping to give scientists a 360-degree view of the ocean floor.

This sea floor rover, capable of reaching depths of 23,000 feet (that's just a little over seven kilometres down!), uses the same 360-degree camera views that Nissan’s bird’s-eye parking technology uses. In a car, that tech alerts drivers of what (and who) is nearby to avoid accidents when parking. But on board this new ocean rover, it grants researchers a superior view of the weird critters living in the unexplored crannies of Davy Jones’ Locker. It could ultimately help scientists use ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) to identify untapped natural resources in the ocean.

This cross-industry joint venture was announced back in April by Nissan, autoparts company Topy Industries, and JAMSTEC (the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology). It turns out the parking-assistive tech is pretty old, having been introduced by Nissan back in 2007, but this is the first time it’s been used underwater. And it sounds as though it may eventually help explore not only to the ocean floor, but the surface of other planets: Earlier this year, NASA and Nissan said they wanted to work together to use self-driving car tech to build planetary rovers that are more autonomous.

Sometimes the technology that could make us better explorers is right under our noses — or in our garages.