It seems the car industry doesn’t have any problems left that need to be solved. Or what else can explain Nissan’s shot at designing a car that can “show emotions”? The so-called Smiling Vehicle was jointly developed by the Hara Design Institute Nippon Design Center and the automaker. And yes, the mini vehicle, based on the Nissan Cube, does look friendly.
The concept car is covered with a substance called ROICA, a polyurethane elastomer fiber from major chemical company Asahi Kasei. ROICA has the ability to deform by up to 900% and is normally used for producing shoes, clothes or car seats. Combine the material with Animatronics, and you get a car grill that can actually “smile”.
The idea behind the Smiling Vehicle sounds rather esoteric. Apparently, Nissan sees this technology as an extension of the driver’s character, meaning it can be used to express your current feeling when you sit in the car. This involves being able to share your feeling with other drivers, thereby “communicating” with other people while on the go.
This video (courtesy of Diginfonews in Tokyo) shows the Smiling Vehicle in action: