Preview day at the Tokyo Motor Show kicks off on Thursday, October 29th, and manufacturers are already unveiling some curious concepts. One such concept is the Nissan IDS Concept. On the outside, it looks like a stretched out hatchback, but on the inside, the car is more reminiscent of a shuttlecraft from Star Trek.

It doesn’t have wings or an interstellar propulsion engine, but it isn’t far off. The computer system built into the car has the latest artificial intelligence that allows the car to park itself, assess road hazards, identify pedestrians, and even compensate for driver error if needed. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said, “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.”

The current world view is that self-driving cars will mean travel is going to get boring, but the IDS Concept is Nissan’s vision of what autonomous driving should be like, as we slowly move into the reality of self-driving cars. The IDS Concept is programmed to mimic the driver’s style of driving and preferences even when in autonomous driving mode. When the concept is in manual driving mode, the artificial intelligence alerts the driver of upcoming changes in traffic conditions, changes in weather, the driver’s schedule and even personal interests like favorite restaurants, tourist attractions or nearby events. On the outside, it is equipped with the latest LED technology that allows it to communicate with pedestrians. The outside of the vehicle will illuminate red to alert pedestrians that the AI is aware of their presence, and can even flash messages like “after you” to alert pedestrians that it is waiting for them to cross the road.

Now that you know a little about the IDS Concept’s AI capabilities, let’s dive in and examine the vehicle on a deeper level.

Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan IDS Concept.

  • 2015 Nissan IDS Concept
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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Nissan’s Design Director, Mitsunori Morita, acknowledges that aerodynamic performance is a vital part increasing the range of electric vehicles, and the IDS concept was designed to incorporate the latest in aero technology. To make the IDS concept more aerodynamic, the overall height of the carbon fiber body was contained to 1,380 mm (just over 4.5 feet) and the wheels are positioned as close to the corners as possible.

Up front, the ice-block shaped grille has a transparent look, with a blue ambiance glowing behind it

Even when sitting still, the sharp body lines and styling make it easy to envision how smoothly air flows over the bluish satin silver painted body. Up front, the ice-block shaped grille has a transparent look, with a blue ambiance glowing behind it, and the headlights come to a point at the grille before shooting back up along the hood line toward the rear of the vehicle. The front fascia has air vents on each side that may also house fog lights, but appear to allow air to pass through the fascia and over the tires – improving the overall aerodynamics of the vehicle.

The doors open in a suicide fashion, and there is no B-pillar, which allows for the wraparound cabin. A sharp cutout on the bottom of the rear door and rear quarter allows air to flow freely over the rear wheels. To the rear, the IDS has another ice-block shaped panel that runs along the hatch between the taillights, with a lit Nissan emblem in the middle. The boomerang-shaped taillights mount flush to the rear quarter along the hatch opening but sit on top of the rear quarter panel as they approach the side of the vehicle. The roof of the IDS is a combination of glass and carbon fiber that allows passengers to look up through the roof and view the sky above. It looks like the car is riding on 20- or 21-inch wheels with 175-series tires that also improve the overall aerodynamics of the vehicle.

Interior

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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The interior is where things really get provocative. There is no center console or traditional dashboard, and the car lacks a traditional steering wheel. The cabin is lined with wood grain paneling and leather. Aside from the switch on the driver seat that switches between auto and manual drive, and the pedals for acceleration and braking, there are no other buttons or switches inside the cabin – everything is controlled by voice command or touch screen.

The steering wheel has a handle on each side for controlling the vehicle

In manual mode, the dashboard is empty. The steering wheel – if that is what you would call it – has a handle on each side for controlling the vehicle, with a few touch buttons that probably control its position or makes minor adjustments to the position of the seat. On top of the “wheel,” there is a heads up display that displays current vehicle speed, and what appears to be the current battery charge. In manual mode, ambient lighting under the “wheel,” on the pedals, and under the dash illuminates blue to assist in driver focus and concentration.

In autonomous mode, the handles of the “wheel” retract, and a personal screen pops up in front of the driver greeting him and offering a personal assistant of sorts. A large screen, reminiscent of half an iPad lifts out of the dash. In the background, the screen displays a detailed satellite map and shows the current GPS route. On the right side of the screen, the driver’s schedule is displayed and on the left there appears to be a music app. In autonomous mode, the seats also tilt inward to allow better communication between the driver and passengers, and all ambient lighting below the dash turns off.

It also looks like there may be a sensor bar projection unit in the center of the roof. This is likely used by the AI to for autonomous driving, but in the future it could be used to project images or video on the windshield when in autonomous mode. The rear of the cabin as two captains-style seats, but is otherwise rather bland. There is a speaker on each side of the headrest on each seat, but if the vehicle ever made it into production, I would expect to see viewing screens on the back of the front seats or the ability to recline the seats for better relaxation on longer trips.

Drivetrain

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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Nissan’s target is to reach zero fatalities and zero emissions, and it can achieve at least one of those with this electric concept. Nissan hasn’t released any information as far as drivetrain specs other than the fact that the car is indeed electric and has a 60 kWh battery. In the press release, Nissan seems confident that the concept will evolve into a leading innovation for future mobility.

A car like this isn’t built to be a racer

Since we don’t have any real specs, I will speculate a bit. A car like this isn’t built to be a racer. In fact, it is really more like a mobile office. I would expect it to have all-wheel drive with a 150 horsepower motor up front and a 250 horsepower motor in the rear. This would keep energy consumption low and still provide the ability for the vehicle to travel at high speeds. I would expect acceleration to be somewhere in the comfortable area of 0-to-60 in around four seconds and top speed in the 140 to 150 mph range.

Conclusion

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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The IDS concept is exactly that, a concept, but I suspect this model previews what the next 10 to 15 years will bring us in the terms of vehicles and autonomous driving. The design of the body isn’t all that extreme like some of the other futuristic concepts out there, and to be honest I think it has just the right mix of wild styling and usability. Of course, we are a long way from being able to trust our lives to AI on the road – currently the best AI in the world is comparable to about 13 percent of the human brain – but we’re getting there. I’ll be sad to see the traditional car replaced, but if humanity has to evolve into a society where computers do the driving work for us, this concept makes me feel a little better about the whole idea. I mean at least you can watch a 30- or 40-inch screen while you’re driving down the interstate.

  • Leave it
    • * Lack of entertainment for rear passengers
    • * lack of potential cargo room

Press Release

Today at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled a concept vehicle that embodies Nissan’s vision of the future of autonomous driving and zero emission EVs: the Nissan IDS Concept.

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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Presenting at the show, Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “Nissan’s forthcoming technologies will revolutionise the relationship between car and driver, and future mobility.”

After leading the development and expansion of EV technology, Nissan once again stands at the forefront of automotive technology. By integrating advanced vehicle control and safety technologies with cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI), Nissan is among the leaders developing practical, real-world applications of autonomous drive technology.

In August 2013, Ghosn said that by 2020 Nissan plans to equip innovative autonomous drive technology on multiple vehicles. Progress is well on track to achieve this goal.

Nissan Intelligent Driving is Nissan’s concept of autonomous drive technology and represents what Nissan believes next-generation vehicles should be. “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,” continued Ghosn.

By 2020, expect to see Nissan Intelligent Driving technology deployed on cars in cities around the world.

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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The Nissan IDS experience
Some have compared a future with autonomous drive to living in a world of conveyer belts that simply ferry people from point A to B, but the Nissan IDS Concept promises a very different vision of tomorrow. Even when the driver selects Piloted Drive and turns over driving to the vehicle, the car’s performance – from accelerating to braking to cornering – imitates the driver’s own style and preferences.

In Manual Drive mode, the driver has control. The linear acceleration and cornering are pure and exhilarating. Yet behind the scenes, the Nissan IDS Concept continues to provide assistance. Sensors continually monitor conditions and assistance is available even while the driver is in control. In the event of imminent danger, Nissan IDS Concept will assist the driver in taking evasive action.

In addition to learning, the Nissan IDS Concept’s AI communicates like an attentive partner. From information concerning traffic conditions, the driver’s schedule to personal interests, Nissan IDS Concept’s AI has what is needed to help create a driving experience that is comfortable, enjoyable and safe.

Design – Together, we ride
“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.

Two interiors enable two ways for the driver to enjoy the experience
Together, we ride is clearly demonstrated in the interior design. “The Nissan IDS Concept has different interiors depending on whether the driver opts for Piloted Drive or Manual Drive. This was something that we thought was absolutely necessary to express our idea of autonomous drive,” says Morita.

Even though it is a hatchback, the Nissan IDS Concept’s long wheelbase enables comfortable seating space for four adults. But the cabin becomes even more spacious when the driver selects Piloted Drive. In this mode, the steering wheel recedes into the centre of the instrument panel and a large flat screen comes out. Various driving-related operations are handled by AI, voice and gestures from the driver. The interior, which comprises natural materials such as mesh leather, is illuminated by soft light. All four seats rotate slightly inward, facilitating easier conversation. It’s like relaxing in a living room.

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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When the driver selects Manual Drive, the roomy interior transforms to put the driver in control. All seats face forward. The steering wheel, which takes styling cues from reins for horse riding, appears along with driving meters and a heads-up display that shows route and other driving information. Interior lighting switches to blue, stimulating the ability to concentrate. Nissan’s use of hollow-structure A-pillars helps ensure excellent visibility by reducing blind spots and also contributes to the feeling of open space.

“In every situation, it is about giving the driver more choices and greater control. And the driver will remain the focus of our technology development efforts,” Ghosn said at the show.

The transformation to Manual Drive can be carried out with ease through a switch between the front seats called the PD Commander. This is the only control the driver can physically operate when the car is in Piloted Drive: when the driver is ready to take over driving, a physical action should initiate the change.

Exterior design — communication that creates confidence and harmony
For autonomous drive to be widely accepted, people need to fully trust the technology. Through its innovative communication capabilities, the Nissan IDS Concept promotes confidence and a sense of harmony for those outside the car as well. Various exterior lights and displays convey to pedestrians and others the car’s awareness of its surroundings and signals its intentions. The car’s silver side body line, for example, is actually an LED that Nissan calls the Intention Indicator. When pedestrians or cyclists are nearby, the strip shines red, signalling that the car is aware of them. Another electronic display, which faces outside from the instrument panel, can flash messages such as “After you” to pedestrians. This natural, harmonious system of communication signals a new future with cars.

Advanced aerodynamic performance for greater driving range
Design Director Mitsunori Morita says: “By the time Nissan Intelligent Driving technology is available on production cars, EVs will be able to go great distances on a single charge. Getting to this point will, of course, require the further evolution of batteries, but aerodynamic performance is also very important. We incorporated our most advanced aerodynamic technology in the design of the Nissan IDS Concept.”

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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The height of the full carbon fibre body was constrained to 1,380 mm, sharply minimising aerodynamic drag (Cd). Positioning the tyres close to the corners of the body maximises interior space while enabling a wrap-around cabin design. Nissan selected large-diameter wheels for high-performance and sportiness, but used very thin 175-size tyres to minimise air and roll resistance. The wheels have a layered design suggestive of thin fins that create tiny vortexes of air flow on the wheel’s surface. This design further contributes to smooth air flow.

The icicle pattern on the Nissan IDS Concept’s grille symbolises a pure and clean design – perfect for an EV. Shaped like a stack of ice blocks, the grille pattern appears transparent. The car’s bluish satin silver body colour heightens the impression of a comfortable and secure cabin space.

Highly evolved EV technology for long-distance driving
At Nissan’s annual shareholders meeting in June, Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto said: “Our zero emission strategy centres on EVs. We are pursuing improved electric powertrain technologies, such as motors, batteries and inverters, which will enable us to mass produce and market EVs that equal or surpass the convenience of petrol-powered cars.”

The Nissan IDS Concept is fitted with a high-capacity 60 kWh battery, and thanks to its outstanding aerodynamics, low stance, flowing form and reduced weight due to its full-carbon-fibre body, the vehicle is designed to also meet the need to drive long distances. Other technologies on the Nissan IDS Concept include Piloted Park that can be operated by smartphone or tablet, and wireless charging technologies. Through these, the driver can leave parking and charging to the car.

Nissan’s targets – Zero traffic fatalities and zero emissions
In order for our car-based society to be sustainable, complex issues ranging from sustainable energy supplies to climate change, air pollution and traffic safety must be addressed. At Nissan, we have set zero fatalities and zero emissions as aspirational targets in our mission to help create a sustainable car-based society.

Over 90% of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Nissan IDS Concept’s extensive system of sensors and AI are designed to provide enhanced safety performance compared to a human driver. This technology brings us a step closer to the goal of zero traffic fatalities.

2015 Nissan IDS Concept
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EVs produce no CO2 emissions and their batteries can store energy from renewable sources and turn it into electricity for homes and buildings. As the number of EVs increases, entire communities will be able to harness their power as part of a sustainable energy plan. Then, as EVs come to play a central role in energy supply, we will come that much closer to becoming a zero emission society.

Nissan believes that the Nissan IDS Concept will evolve into a leading innovation for next generation mobility and our quest for making these “two zeroes” a reality.

Featuring Nissan’s most advanced safety, driving-control and EV technology – all taken to a new level by AI – the Nissan IDS Concept is a compelling showcase of a promising future.

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