Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This is so kewl.....

From Science Magazine's 'Random Samples' feature:
Meet the Pivo 2, Nissan's compact electric concept car, designed for urban travel with a 360° rotating cabin and wheels that allow the car to scoot sideways for parking. It's one of the stars of the new exhibit "Japan Car: Designs for the Crowded Globe" at London's Science Museum, spotlighting "mobile cells"--small cars fueled by low-polluting electricity or hydrogen and equipped with intelligent driver interfaces.

Other examples include Toyota's iREAL, a sitting version of a Segway that looks like a futuristic wheelchair, with sensors that alert a driver to obstacles down the road, and Mitsubishi's electrical iMiEV, planned for release next year, that can go 160 kilometers on an overnight charge.

Key features of these vehicles are their brains. Pivo 2 has a talking "robotic agent" that offers traffic updates and route information and has voice-recognition capability to answer a driver's questions. The agent is personified by a swiveling head mounted beside the instrument panel that nods and shakes to keep the driver in a "positive frame of mind." "It infers the driver's mood through conversation and facial-monitoring technology," Nissan says. But can you make it shut up? Nissan doesn't say.

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