Nissan, the Japanese car giant, opened a new advanced research center in Sunnyvale, California that will conduct high-profile research aimed at making it a major player in the upcoming market of self-driven cars and internet-connected auto technology.

The facility will house 60 engineers and technicians in the next three years according to VP of North American R&D Carla Bailo. The move is in sync with their consistent efforts over the past few years to move a bulk of Nissan’s work “to the heart of the industry”. Nissan opened a Mountain View research office in 2011, and the new facility is a clear indication of their increasing focus on North American markets.

“We’re going to focus on this technology really in the heart of where it lies today,” Bailo said “We are going to be shifting work that’s being done in our Nissan Advanced Technical Center in Atsugi, and moving that work over to the heart of the industry.”

Other auto giants like Toyota and Volkswagen already have research facilities in SV and Nissan expects to develop a synergy with Stanford University's automotive labs as well as the University of California's Berkeley and Davis campuses. Though, legal hurdles won’t make self-driving cars a reality until about 2020, the increasing resources put in this area by all auto giants including the Google Self-driving car project is expected to produce a new generation of ultra-connected vehicular technology.

The Nissan Sunnyvale facility will be led by Maarten Sierhuis, a former NASA scientist specializing in artificial intelligence research.