“Do androids dream of electric sheep” was the 1968 book on which the movie Blade Runner was based. That title gives more than a hint of what is happening in the distant future.
We often write stories about future cars – a future like it is going to happen quite soon. Most of the time it is more a matter of combining one existing tech with another to find a solution to a problem that is not urgent but would be great to solve. An example is self-driving, which would be great to have, but whose absence will not stop you from getting to work.
This is not one of those stories. JB Choi studied at the ArtCenter College of Design and produced such a stream of futuristic concepts that Nissan Design America offered him an internship, which led to the development and construction of his wildest design.
The Nissan GT-R (X) 2050 is not so much a car as an idea that scares everyone so much it is impossible to describe without swearing. Here is why.
It is a car in that it has four wheels and can accommodate a human to drive it. So far, so good. It is three metres long and only 62cm high. Two school rulers and you have to fit into that. And before you bring up the vision of Jeremy Clarkson sitting on top of the diminutive Atom with his cheeks flapping in the slipstream, the operative term here is into.
The Nissan GT-R (X) 2050 is an X-shaped box with a wheel in each corner. You get into it by lifting the lid and lying face-down, each foot at a rear wheel and each hand at a front one. Your head fits into a helmet that acts as a neural interface between your brain and the controls of the car. Did I mention scary? Imagine sneezing going into a turn at 300km/h.
Also, you don’t see the road ahead. Okay, you do, but only with virtual reality built into the helmet. There is a device, like a spider’s thorax, strapped to your spine to help absorb road shock and also direct your thought impulses to the wheels and motor.
This is not so much a car as a high-tech, high-speed suit with wheels. I cannot imagine anyone driving such a thing anytime soon. But here is the thing about future design: it shifts how far we can see further forward into the future.
On a practical level it is better to combine existing technologies to solve immediate problems. But JB Choi and Nissan Design America take a leap into the future, to show us not what will be, but can be imagined. And that will determine where we, or our children, will be a long, long time ahead.
Nissan is an exciting brand. It gives us great cars and bakkies now, but it constantly agitates for a future we cannot even dream of. Keep up with this ever-unfolding story by subscribing to our newsletter.