Japan automaker giant Nissan has unveiled a brand-new autonomous all-electric concept car dubbed IDS at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. The sleek, shape-shifting Nissan IDS is a highly futuristic concept car that showcases a host of new technologies the company is developing in its plans to launch a number of increasingly sophisticated fully autonomous vehicles by 2020.
The Nissan IDS Concept vehicle gets its name from Intelligent Driving System, a suite of advanced technologies Nissan is packaging under the catchphrase- “Because driving is a full-time job and humans are only human.” The Japanese automaker has been chasing autonomous driving since 2013, when Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced plans to have its own autonomous vehicles by 2020. Nissan’s push comes as traditional automakers face big high-tech companies from Silicon Valley that has the deep pockets and formidable technologies to develop the advanced technology needed for the driverless car.
Sleek and cutting-edge aerodynamics
The new concept car showcases key engineering and design technology. It used cutting-edge aerodynamic and lightweight technologies to make a better driving experience. On the outside, the shape-shifting design delivers what Nissan says is an industry-leading drag coefficient of 0.20. Its fin-like vertical fenders on front and rear help the car cut efficient through the air, enabling smooth airflow around the car.
Much powerful battery
Nissan’s new concept car is powered by an all-electric drivetrain that gets electricity from a relatively large 60 kilowatt-hour next-generation lithium-ion battery pack, which double the energy density of the battery pack of today’s Nissan Leaf electric vehicles. Nissan’s engineers made a huge improvement on the battery by switching to manganese, nickel and cobalt chemistry for the cathode, from the current base of manganese-nickel. They also made a better electrolyte, which improves the battery’s life span. This battery improvement also allows Nissan to pack 288 cells into the same space currently occupied by 192 cells. In addition, there’s also a new purposed-designed mobile app that allows the driver to tell the car to pull in and out of a parking lot by simply pressing a command button. The app also allows driver to turn wireless battery charging on and off from a distance.
Two driving modes
Unlike other autonomous vehicles in the market, the Nissan IDS Concept offers two driving modes, the Manual Drive for traditional hands-on-wheel driving and Piloted Drive for sit-back and ride convenience. Switching to Piloted Drive mode, the machine takes full control, from accelerating to braking and cornering. The blue hues fade to more natural colors, all four seats rotate slightly inward to enhance the lounge-like feel of the car. The steering wheel recedes into the dashboard while the instrument cluster pivots forward to reveal an iPad-like touch screen, which gives the driver an access to social media applications and entertainment. The IDS car knows where it’s going because it's packed with sophisticated radar sensors, cameras, and laser scanners to get a full 360-degrees view.
Artificial Intelligence and safety technology
Nissan engineers gave the IDS concept car a so-called Intention Indicator, these are strip of LED lights that wraps around the outside of the vehicle. In Piloted Drive mode, this LED light shines blue when pedestrians or cars are nearby and signals that is aware of a person’s position by emitting a white light that tracks the body’s movement around the car. And even in Manual Drive mode, the new car will assist the driver in taking evasive actions if required while learning through its installed Artificial Intelligence software system (AI). The AI system onboard analyzes and learns how the driver accelerates, brakes and turns. It also watches for traffic conditions and learn the driver’s schedule and even personal interests.
Nissan has already pitched the AI technology as a safety feature that prevents car accidents. But it hasn’t yet branded the safety technology as successfully as such rivals as Toyota, Subaru and Tesla. Nissan said it expects to deploy Intelligent Driving technologies seen in the IDS Concept in the 2020s.
The Nissan IDS Concept car showcases the autonomous technology that the company hopes to bring to the market by 2020. It takes autonomous technology to the next level by letting the driver picks their own driving style.
Image Courtesy: Forbes