Nissan Debuts Mind-Controlled, Belly-Surfing GTR-X 2050 Concept Car

Nissan will have to make quantum leaps in everything from neural interface to digital marketing.
Brad Bergan
Korean designer Jaebum "JB" Choi with his GTR-X.Nissan

The design team at Nissan has built a full-scale model of a new concept car — conceived as a mind-controlled, rolling exoskeleton, the newly-debuted GTR-X is, without doubt, one of the most intriguing concept cars of 2020, according to a blog post on Nissan's official website.


Nissan GTR-X Final Design 0
As always, it's interesting to imagine what the world will look like in 30 years. Source: Nissan

Nissan unveils mind-controlled belly-surfing GTX-R concept car

The brainchild of Korean designer Jaebum "JB" Choi, Nissan's new GTR-X concept car is an autonomous supercar of the year 2050. It's interesting to imagine what life will be like in 30 years — since much of the robotic and autonomous technology will serve at the pleasure of the well-off, who (to draw a scene) might watch in mild amusement through bullet-proof windows as maximalist megacities lift a towering skyline high above the muck of the sprawling industrial landscape.

On the other hand, JB Choi believes the future holds streamlined, fast-paced megacities where people will get around in single-occupant X-shaped autonomous vehicles running on all-electric power, and four wheels, New Atlas reports.

The GTR-X concept car was constructed around the human body. To slip inside, drivers will pop the GTR-X's top, and lie flat on their belly — a position ideal for low-drag aerodynamics, not unlike the early autonomous Roborace car prototypes.

Nissan GTR-X Belly-Surfing
Drivers of Nissan's far-future autonomous supercar will need to lie on their bellies. Source: Nissan

Nissan will have to make quantum leaps in technology

Notably, there's no windscreen on Nissan's latest prototype. Instead of relying on glass, drivers strap on a spherical VR helmet with several protruding sections designed to extend the driver's range of sight with cameras installed on the car's exterior.

And there's more. Apparently, drivers need to wear a race suit, along with a hefty backpack. The GTR-X still uses roads, but it doesn't need a steering wheel — since it drives itself. The driver interface with the car works via a "brain to core transmitter" — which transmutes thoughts into digital form, and sends them to a "plasma energy core" with a glowing blue hue where unspeakably sci-fi things happen.

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As of writing, no one is technologically advanced enough to build the real deal — but it's not impossible. Nissan will first have to tackle the problem of drivers coughing up lunch when their VR helmets display motion perpendicular to the visceral motion of the vehicle as it sways and jerks the body in every two-dimensional direction.

Nissan GTR-X 360-Degree Wheels
Nissan's GTR-X concept car will have "360-degree" wheels. Source: Nissan

Nissan will also need to solve the problem of making Choi's "360-degree" wheels functional. There's also the issue of explaining and building "plasma energy cores." In a less bleeding-edge sense, Nissan will need to take autonomous vehicle technology to the generation after the next — ditto for neural interface technology, to say nothing for how in the globally-warming world a company can market a vehicle designed to turn a human into a belly-surfing street rocket.

At least they have the scale model in the bag.

Nissan GTR-X Final Desing 1
The GTR-X is Choi's thesis for his graduation from California's ArtCenter College of Design. Source: Nissan

Choi built GTR-X to 'demonstrate emotional connection' of technology

For now, the GTR-X is simply Choi's thesis submission, in anticipation of his graduation from California's ArtCenter College of Design. He hooked up with Nissan during a two-month pre-coronavirus internship at Nissan Design America. Needless to say, Nissan instantly saw the promise of Choi's vision, and built the 10-ft (3-m) long 1:1 model to help Choi as he carries his career forward.

"JB is a super-talented, super-creative designer and his ideas about future supercars driven by brain-to-vehicle integration fit perfectly with Nissan's advanced work in the B2V field," said David Woodhouse, Nissan Design America's Vice President. "His thesis was all about demonstrating the emotional connection technology can create, and the benefit that it can deliver for customers. It was super exciting for the NDA team to help JB give form to this idea as a 1:1 model."

Fossil fuel cars will probably phase-out of the mainstream in the next decades, in favor of all-electric models and other energy sources. But as much as this feels like a paradigmatic shift, the real change in how we conceive of land-based vehicles could be how the physical architecture morphs to frame the human body in an aerodynamic frame — instead of the typical engine block and conventional passenger space. While it's too soon to tell for sure what the world will be like in 30 years, there's no harm in thinking big.

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