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Nissan Pivo 2 at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show
Forward, sideways or backwards
With neither reverse, shafts nor axles

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: rotating cabin above the basis.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: 360 rotating cabin above the basis.

APN,
2 November 2007.

You remember the first Nissan Pivo, that cheeky 360 turning concept car. It was one of the 2005 Tokyo motor show amusing attractions.

Now, we've got to think again, for here is the... Pivo 2 at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, which opens its doors from 27 October to 11 November.

Yes, that's getting more serious than a simple techno-design exercise. And that's logical after all. We know that we have practically consumed half of the estimated oil reserves of this planet, that we can't get more from any other planet - at least within our reach -, that prices will go only up from now on, that many oil rich regions are unstable (one wonders why!), and most importantly for our subject, we know for sure that we have to downsize our cars and our energy consumption habits.

Hence, if a concept car ever dreams of tempting us back to smaller body sizes and engines, it has to be clever, very clever.

There are certainly clever communication tools and gimmicks, there are also very entertaining accessories to make the "living" nicer in the longer and longer traffic jams. But there are also clever ideas which can make a small car... superior, yes, superior to a bigger one that might look in a few years a bit stupid.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: partly turned cabin.

Cabin partly turned to the left: Pivo revolving interior means that the driver can always face forward while driving, even when parallel parking or when leaving a front-in parking space.

That's why small concept cars are getting smarter. They do mean business after all, not just smiley faces under autoshow projectors.

We got used to Japanese big cars and SUVs, so we could be excused for forgetting today that the Japanese car started its successful expansion in the West through small sized cars, before chasing U.S. and European brands into luxury, large cars and SUV lands.

With this in mind, it is easy to understand why the Japanese look so comfortable in small cars innovation. That is, functional design and technical innovation.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: cabin view from outside.

For a concept car, the bubble glass promises excellent view, but in real-world production terms, that would need specific filtering for the sun radiations.

And what company can better epitomise the Japanese readiness to tackle the future of the small car, than the rejuvenated Nissan? After its renaissance in the early years of this decade, Nissan is showing now its path to the future of the car in a more environmentally conscious era.

Powered by advanced compact lithium-ion batteries, the electric Pivo 2 concept car builds on the popularity of the first Pivo. That popularity came especially from its funny face and 'Revolutionary' technology of a 360 degree turning cabin with 90 degree turning wheels.

Pivo 2 takes the idea of an environmentally friendly electric urban commuter vehicle to enhance both fun and functionality. It is powered by advanced compact lithium-ion batteries and employs 'by-wire' technologies for braking and steering.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: open door from the back.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: open door from the side.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: steering and dashboard move out with the door.

To assist in ingress and egress, Pivo 2's instrument panel is integrated into the power front door and the steering wheel rises when the door is opened. The latter is accessible from any direction as the cabin can be turned to face entering passengers.

Where the first Pivo, with its fully rotating cabin design, made reversing obsolete, the Pivo 2 takes that easy mobility concept to a new level. Each of the four wheels is powered by Nissan's advanced electric In-wheel 3D Motor (Pivo 1 had one electric motor for each axle) and can turn through 90 degrees to allow Pivo 2 to drive sideways as well as forward.

Like the first Pivo, the centrepiece of Pivo 2's unique design is its revolving three-person cabin and "by-wire" technologies that rely on electric signals instead of the conventional mechanical linkages (shafts, hydraulic cylinders and other components) in the steering, braking and drivetrain systems.

But Pivo 2 goes further. It is equipped with a number of safety systems based on Nissan's Safety Shield concept, including Around View Monitor (AVM) and Distance Control Assist System (DCAS), which will be featured in Motion Trends next week, with other Nissan technologies.

With conversations possible in Japanese and English, A Robotic Agent (RA) provides a unique interface through which the driver can communicate with Pivo 2 on basic vehicle functions up to more complex tasks such as asking about the nearest available parking.

Nissan Pivo 2
Length 2,600mm
Width 1,690 to
2,200mm
Height 1,700mm
Wheelbase 2,000mm
Seating 3

 

Research by Nissan showed that drivers who are in a positive frame of mind are significantly less likely to be involved in accidents. Taking that concept further, Nissan believes that a vehicle can also evoke feelings of affection, creating an actual "partner" relationship. To that end, Pivo 2 employs a robotic agent (RA) that serves to connect the car and driver, engendering feelings of affection and trust.

With its "face" peering over the instrument panel, the RA "talks" and "listens" to the driver, inferring the latter's mood through conversation and facial monitoring technology. Besides providing information needed for driving operations, RA is programmed to "cheer up" or "soothe" the driver, depending on the situation.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: driving position view.

Revolving 3-person cabin and x-by-wire technologies use electric signals instead of mechanical linkages (shafts, hydraulic cylinders and other components) in the steering, braking and drivetrain systems.

Moreover, RA "gestures" to the driver in ways that can be intuitively understood, such as nodding or shaking its head - helping put the driver in a calmer, happier frame of mind. This interactive interface forges feelings of trust and affection between the driver and car that facilitate safe, enjoyable driving.

"In the course of interacting with RA during the development process, we would become concerned and wonder what RA was thinking at times, particularly when it was silent and kept still," said Masahiko Tabe, a Senior Manager in Nissan's Advanced Vehicle Engineering Department. "Clearly we were developing feelings of trust and affection with RA and, by extension, Pivo 2."

The RA system is located on the left side of the instrument panel, with a liquid crystal display monitor on the right side. The monitor screen changes in tandem with the RA's communications with the driver.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: Robotic Agent and dashboard view.

The Robotic Agent (RA) system is located on the left side of the instrument panel, with a liquid crystal display monitor on the right side. It communicates on everything from basic vehicle functions to the nearest available parking.

More than just creating Pivo 2 as a rolling laboratory for robotic agent interactions, Pivo 2's physical layout itself embraces intelligent design. "Normally, a car design is developed while keeping the mechanical functions in mind, such as where the headlamps or taillights should be located," comments Chief Designer Masato Inoue of the Product Design Department. "However, in designing Pivo 2, we were conscious of the overall car being an intelligent life form. Pivo 2 represents an experiment unlike anything we have ever tried before."

Pivo 2's exterior makes an attractive statement. High-power, thin disc-shaped motors, positioned at all four wheels, eliminate the need to install traction motors within the body, resulting in substantial space gains. Additional room is saved by the increased capacity of Nissan's advanced compact lithium-ion battery that drives the motors, as well as the adoption of a compact inverter integrated with each motor.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: Robotic Agent view.

With the RA's "face" peering over the instrument panel, the RA "talks" and "listens" to the driver, inferring the driver's mood through conversation and facial monitoring technology. Besides providing information needed for driving operations, RA is programmed to "cheer up" or "soothe" the driver, depending on the situation.

With Pivo 2's 360-degree revolving cabin, its front door is accessible from any direction - allowing it to be turned to face entering passengers wherever they are standing. Driver and passengers access their seats through the front door, as if they were going in or out of their own personal room.

To assist in ingress and egress, Pivo 2's instrument panel is integrated into the power front door and the steering wheel rises when the door is opened.

Pivo 2's revolving cabin, inherited from the first-generation Pivo, is made possible by advanced by-wire technologies and the "Metamo" (variable geometry) system that allows flexible geometry changes. This signature Pivo revolving interior means that the driver can always face forward while driving, even when parallel parking or when leaving a front-in parking space.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car: wheel view.

An electric motor housed in each wheel unit, so Pivo 2 can be easily manoeuvred in ways that would be difficult with an ordinary vehicle. With the ability to control all four wheel units independently, Pivo 2 is also able to move sideways when negotiating tight parking spaces or congested streets.

Advanced control technology serves to integrate the operation of the thin disc-shaped traction motor housed in each wheel unit, so Pivo 2 can be easily manoeuvred in ways that would be difficult with an ordinary vehicle. With the ability to control all four wheel units independently, Pivo 2 is also able to move sideways - an obvious benefit when negotiating tight parking spaces or congested streets.

Additionally, by allowing the car's orientation to be flexibly changed in any direction, Pivo 2's Metamo system not only enhances convenience, it also improves performance and safety.

For example, the system automatically controls the position of the wheels according to the driving conditions to equalise the load on all four wheels. To accomplish this, the wheels are moved backward during vehicle acceleration, forward during deceleration and toward the outside of a turn while cornering. This load-distribution technology ensures stable driving without body lean during acceleration, deceleration and turning.

The application of cutting-edge technologies resulted in Pivo 2's compact package, shape and innovative movement modalities that can promise further development of such electric-powered vehicles for the road.

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