Nissan's Pivo 2 drives sideways to the future

9 October 2007

Pivo 2Imagine an egg balanced on a roller-skate and you're not far off picturing Nissan's Pivo 2 concept car, set to go on display at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. It's a development of the first Pivo concept, shown in 2005, and both cars share a party-piece. They can turn around without moving a wheel.

Both Pivo 1 and 2 exploit full drive-by-wire technology to divorce the mechanicals from the controls, removing the need for anything other than an electronic link between the steering wheel and the driven wheels. The result is that the entire passenger compartment can swivel, like a tank's turret, through 360 degrees - while the wheels, motors and other grubby bits stay motionless beneath it. And this of course means that the Pivo drivers don't need to learn how to reverse – going backwards is a case of spinning the cabin and going forwards.

Pivo 2 makes it even more simple to park by featuring individually swivelling wheels with hub motors, allowing the car to make like a crab and scurry sideways into difficult parking places - a trick shown off by Toyota's Fine-X car at the 2005 Tokyo show.

The interior shows just as much innovation.

Pivo 2 dashboard showing Robotic AgentDriver and two passengers enter via a single large door set into the front of the passenger pod, which like a 1960s bubble car swings opens complete with the steering wheel and instruments. And the pedals too. In a nod to the iPod generation, the brake pedal and accelerator carry stop and fast-forward emblems more normally seen on a stereo or video recorder. We're not sure if the Pivo 2 includes a remote control...

Beyond the labelling silliness is a cute Robotic Agent, which sits in the dashboard like R2-D2 nestled in the back of an X-Wing. Rather than unintelligible bleeps and whistles, this robot offers cogent advice to the driver.

“While drivers are being happy, the accident rate goes drastically lower,” explained Masato Inoue, Nissan's chief designer. “The Pivo 2's Robotic Agent is here for cheering up the driver, and guiding the driver, and sometimes sensing the sleepiness of the driver and warning ... there are so many intimate human communications between driver and the Robotic Agent [that] can be done.”

There's a lot to like here. Will it reach production? Alas – for all those who struggle to park while peering over a shoulder – probably not soon in this format.

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