With autonomous IDS Concept, Nissan gives choice of autopilot or ‘excitement …

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Car or spaceship? Self-driving minivan with interactive holograms and driveable airbag among bizarre vehicles unveiled at Tokyo Motor Show.

Tokyo Motor Show – Nissan may be on the front row of the alternative-fuels grid, but until now has made scarcely a ripple in the autonomous driving or connected-car space.

His company’s electric vehicle sales have been a pale shadow of what the company bullishly predicted, but Ghosn was upbeat, boasting about Nissan’s leadership in the EV market with 20,000 sales of the battery electric Leaf.They look more like spaceships and robots from a science fiction film than cars designed to drive on the roads, but these outlandish-looking vehicles are the auto-industry’s vision of the future.

The motor show’s 44th edition, which runs until November 8, features 160 exhibitors including global auto giants and parts suppliers from a dozen countries. The stars of the Nissan display at Japan’s premier auto expo are the IDS self-driving concept and the Teatro for Dayz – which is not so much as car as a mobile device on wheels.

The Gripz concept is a precursor to the next Nissan Juke, and looks like a Fifties Ferrari on stilts, while the IDS Concept isn’t yet another attempt to unify UK benefits from Iain Duncan Smith, but a 60kWh battery electric-powered study into autonomous driving, which hints at the styling of a future Leaf. It starts a week after Honda said it would put a commercialised self-driving car on the road by 2020, as automakers bet on vehicles that can drive and, in some case, park themselves.

Most of the concept cars unveiled at the show aimed to make motorists and their passengers more connected to the world around them by streaming movies and social media inside the vehicles. The IDS, in particular, represents what Nissan believes next-generation vehicles should be. “Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver’s ability to see, think and react,” said Renault Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in his presentation. “It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents.

When the driver selects Piloted Drive and turns over control to the car, its performance – from accelerating to braking to cornering – imitates the driver’s own style. The company plans to introduce a degree of autonomous driving it calls Piloted Drive by 2016; technology that can maintain station in a single lane by itself. Fitted with LED touch screens, the electric vehicle can be ‘redecorated’ while onboard cameras allow any experience in or around the car to be shared instantly with friends. Ghosn reckons Nissan will be able to offer full city and highway Piloted Driving by 2020, with Japan getting the first examples, followed by China, Europe and America.

Nissan said: ‘Share natives could change Teatro for Dayz’s interior design, matching the look to the season, the weather or simply the vibe of the day. ‘When the car is in drive mode, metres, controls and maps appear on a pure white instrument panel. The eye-popping vehicle conjures images of the Terminator films with some of a usually hidden underbelly — including fuel tank and hoses — exposed, giving an inside look at the car’s machinery. The self-driving system – Ghosn went so far as to call it artificial intelligence – not only learns from where you go, what you do and how you do it, it also communicates with you like a personal assistant, with information about traffic conditions, reminders about your schedule and even your personal interests.

Design director Mitsunori Morita explained: “The Nissan IDS Concept has different interiors depending on whether the driver opts for Piloted Drive or Manual Drive. It is more like the ability to modify a car to meet their mood at that moment.’ German manufacturers Mercedes-Benz unveiled a sleek self-driving minivan sized vehicle that is aimed at turning the car into a luxury movable living room. Toyota and Honda are also exhibiting their latest fuel-cell offerings, seen as the holy grail of green cars because they emit nothing but water vapour from the tailpipe and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas. Passengers can control the displays using gestures and holographic buttons. ‘The Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo embodies the concept of an automotive lounge for a future generation of megacities,’ said Gorden Wagener, head of design at Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes.

The auto giant is hoping to sell tens of thousands of the eco-friendly vehicle over the next decade, as it looks to stop producing fossil-fuel based cars altogether by 2050. Toyota also unveiled a super-compact connected electric vehicle that can be controlled using a joystick and keeps its passengers linked via the internet to their friends and family.

Honda’s rival fuel-cell features a cruising range of more than 700km (430 miles), and generates electricity that could help supply power to a local community in an emergency situation, it said. The Coms Connect, which looks more like spacecraft than a car, has motors inside its wheels and can be adapted for single occupants or put into a ‘tandem’ mode. The goggle-eyed creation is designed as a ‘communication partner’ that uses expressions and gestures to interact with its owners and ‘bring smiles to their faces’. But a limited driving range and lack of refuelling stations have hampered development of fuel-cell and all-electric cars, which environmentalists say could play a vital role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and slowing global warming.

However, Toyota has also dreamed up a concept vehicle for those who may not want to turn their vehicles into ‘digital spaces’ and would prefer to escape the world of touch screens and mobile internet. Among the overseas automakers attending are BMW, Peugeot Citroen, Porsche, Jaguar and crisis-hit Volkswagen, which is embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in the history of the automobile sector. Instead the Kikai is a sort of ‘anti-connected’ vehicle, showing a stripped back kind of beauty with old style physical buttons, pedals and not a computer in sight. Toyota said: ‘The concept was designed to explore and emphasize the fundamental appeal of machines – their fine craftsmanship, their beauty, simplicity and their fascinating motion. Their two-seater FCV Plus has the aerodynamic lines of a flying car from science fiction films, but beneath its futuristic lines it has a pressurised tank to store compressed hydrogen from which it can generate electricity.

Nissan’s zero emission strategy centres on battery-powered electric cars; the aim is to develop better electric motors, batteries and inverters so it can mass-produce battery cars that equal or better the convenience of petrol-powered vehicles. According to Nissan product planning manager Hidemi Sasaki, what moves them is capturing experiences in photos and video, and sharing them; friends respond with ‘likes’ and share the experience further. For the preople he calls ‘share natives’, he says, excitement comes not from ownership of material objects, but from using things to connect with friends and share enjoyment. It’s small (digital natives like small), battery powered because they’re more at ease with connecting their devices to chargers than having to visit a garage to re-fuel – and it can be used anywhere to recharge hand-held devices.

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