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Home Garage Nice homework assignment: Nissan builds intern’s dream

Nice homework assignment: Nissan builds intern’s dream

Design student’s futuristic senior project becomes full-scale model

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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.”

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. E- if this is the future of performance, I’m all in- do you ‘spose this could be tailored for a fat guy? Maybe a bump in the aero to accommodate one’s *ahem* butt? Or gut?
    I’m happily divorced, no offspring, seldom have passengers.
    JB needs to be kicking a** at anybody’s design bureau. Jeez-us wept, Cadillac is gonna make 6spd crunch boxes standard on their new V-series… and you can’t get that with a new mid-engined ‘Vette. Can you help him onboard at Caddy? They’re exactly crazy enough to build this- ‘member the Ceil? Or the CTS-V wagon? Wagon?! I gots an ’04 Holden/Pontiac GTO, and the no cost optional Tremec, as agricultural as it is, makes the car. Push the motor to 4200rpm, step off the clutch while pushing the pedal into the mat; lighten the throttle and smooth/ghost the clutch (not a no-lift, but close) 1-2-3-4… Ooh. Ohh.
    A dual clutch, hand controlled trans with direct input, all electronics disabled ala modern Grands Prix/Superbikes. Ooh. Be still my beating heart.
    This young man is a visionary winner; how do we help get him the money shot?

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