Nice homework assignment: Nissan builds intern’s dream

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

The topic for Jaebum “JB” Choi’s senior thesis as a senior at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, was to design a car for the year 2050. 

Inspired by the Nissan GT-R and his new work as an intern at the Nissan Design America in La Jolla, California, Choi did a design study for an autonomous era when machines might embody a driver’s emotion through a special connection between man and machine. And thus, the Nissan GT-R(x) 2050, which to Choi’s surprise, would become more than a student’s computerized sketch.

‘JB” Choi and his exoskeleton-style vehicle for 2050

“I started my internship at NDA in January (2020) and participated in company projects for about two months,” Choi is quoted in a Nissan news release. “Then, I started my ‘vision humanoid’ project for the rest of the internship, working from home because of COVID-19.

“Little did I imagine then that the team at NDA would take me under their wings and help me create it as a full-size model.”

But that’s what happened. Choi’s senior thesis became a 3-dimensional work of automotive artistry.

“The completed project runs just under 10 feet long and sits just over two feet high,” Nissan reports. “The single occupant, the driver, rests horizontally in a ‘prone’ position with limbs extended in an X-shape. The driver wears a futuristic, form-fitting suit and helmet that resembles a superbike riders’ protective helmets and leathers.”

“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,” Nissan’s vice president of design David Woodhouse is quoted in the company’s news release. 

“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.”

The GT-R(s) 2050 is a “wearable machine” that links the driver’s brain and the vehicle’s computer to provide better performance than might be available from the typical self-driving car. 

He explains that the vehicle imitates the shape of the human body so it can efficiently protect the brain.

“Exo-skeletons today make people stronger by wearing mechanical structures,” he said. “I tried to fit the size of a person’s body as much as I could, as if I were wearing a car.

“I wanted to create a new form of machine that is not a vehicle to ride; it is the space where machine and the human become one.”

Choi’s driver’s helmet is designed to fit into a slot for a front-vision vehicle camera that offers shared virtual reality viewing. A brain-to-core transmitter would help the human brain activate digitalized signals. 

Choi envisions the vehicle’s one-piece wheel/tire units having a shape close to a square, allowing the vehicle to turn 360 degrees. The outer tire diameter measures 21 inches, and the inner wheel circle is 15 inches. The wheels’  spoke pattern was designed to help the wheel cool down quickly, even under extreme braking.

The car has a wing that adds downforce when extended but folds so the driver can get in and out of the vehicle.

JB has essentially envisioned a new mode of transportation that people could experience like clothes, ‘wearable,’ instead of a traditional vehicle ‘carriage’,” said Woodhouse. “It is the kind of breaking-the-mold thinking that has always been encouraged here at NDA. We’ve been honored to help bring JB’s vision to life.”

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