Nissan believes that the future of motoring is about zero traffic accidents and zero emissions. Its IDS (Intelligent Driving Sedan) concept is designed to do both. Unveiled at the Tokyo motor show this week, the IDS combines advanced autonomous driving systems in a long range battery powered chassis. “Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver’s ability to see, think and react. It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents. As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun,” says Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
The IDS concept takes autonomous driving to a new level. Instead of just avoiding idiots who pull out in front of you or stop short unexpectedly, it uses artificial intelligence strategies to learn how you like to drive, so it can mimic your personal driving style when you put the car into Piloted Drive mode. That’s when the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and is replaced by a large touchscreen that also has hand gesture controls. All four seats turn inward to promote intimate conversation as the cabin lights dim to create a relaxing environment.
Nissan IDS Concept | Tokyo 2015
“A key point behind the Nissan IDS Concept is communication. For autonomous drive to become reality, as a society we have to consider not only communication between car and driver but also between cars and people. The Nissan IDS Concept’s design embodies Nissan’s vision of autonomous drive as expressed in the phrase together, we ride,” says Mitsunori Morita, Design Director.
Part of that communication is a band of LED lights along both sides of the car that light up when a pedestrian, bicyclist or other motorist is detected nearby. It’s the car’s way of saying. “I am aware of your presence.” What the reaction to that message might be is anyone’s guess. The car can also project messages onto the front windshield for those outside the car to read. For instance, it can tell a pedestrian, “Go ahead. I will wait for you to cross.”
Nissan says all of this goodness includes the ability to go at least 250 miles before recharging the 60 kWh battery. If that seems a little small for so much range, Nissan has addressed that by making the car light in weight due to extensive use of carbon fiber. It has also designed the body to be as aerodynamic as possible.
Did someone mention styling?
Like the all-electric Nissan Blade Glider concept, whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that it’s certainly different! The front aero splitter looks like a parcel shelf and the body has more nips and tucks than Jane Fonda. For some reason, Japanese designers are in love with the idea of grafting gigantic clefts into the front and rear fascias of their cars, as if they were Soviet era MIG fighters. All of them (think Toyota Mirai here) make for exterior styling that varies between horrendous and downright ugly. Hopefully, the trend will soon fade away, as did tail fins and cruiser skirts.
Is the world ready for a car that learns to think just like we do, a car that knows our schedule, knows where the kids’ school bus is, knows what the weather is over Peoria and knows what ingredients you need to make a perfect Bearnaise sauce? Whatever happened to making good electric cars that real people can afford so we can all stop burning fossil fuels to get around? Somehow, the whole idea of the automobile as a four wheeled smart phone that spares us the horror of ever being disconnected from social media is more than a little disturbing.