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Nissan IDS Concept possesses artificial intelligence. Image by Nissan.

Nissan IDS Concept possesses artificial intelligence
Nissan's Tokyo show IDS concept can drive autonomously and 'copy' its human driver.
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What's all this about?

Massive technofear alert: this is a Nissan electric vehicle (EV) with artificial intelligence (AI). It's called the IDS concept and it's taking its global bow at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Is there a purpose to its AI?

Yes, the car can drive itself fully autonomously, in Piloted Drive, or it can be controlled by a puny human in Manual Drive. Depending on which mode you're in, the IDS has a different interior.

Come again?!

For Piloted Drive, the steering wheel recedes into the depths of the dashboard and a large display screen takes its place. All four seats turn slightly inwards to face each other, which apparently lets the people on board talk to each other more easily. Isn't that nice?

And in Manual Drive?

The seats all turn to face forward, all the necessary gauges and dials make their appearance (in digital form, naturally) and the steering wheel makes a triumphal return. That wheel, incidentally, is based on horse-riding reins. No joke.

So is that all the AI does - change the cabin architecture?

Certainly not. When in Piloted Drive it's clever enough to be able to imitate its main driver's style behind the wheel, while there's a line running along the IDS concept's side - called the Intention Indicator - that lets pedestrians and cyclists know that the car is aware that they are there, by shining red. In an evil, AI-controlled manner. No, hang on, that last bit's not true...

You don't sound too impressed. Don't you think it looks good?

Yes, it does, and the best news here is that this is probably going to become the next Nissan Leaf. The angular body is made entirely from carbon fibre, to keep the weight down, and a lot of work has gone into making it aerodynamic; the IDS is only 1,380mm tall, for instance. Narrow 175-section tyres for lower rolling resistance are wrapped around alloy wheels that are shoved to the corners of the car, to maximise interior space, and they also have fin-like structures on their surfaces to ensure the Nissan cuts through the air more cleanly. Look at the A-pillars, too, as they're hollow - reducing blind spots as a result.

And what about its drivetrain?

Not too many details, save to say that it's a high-capacity 60kWh battery on board and the IDS concept can apparently go a long distance on a charge, thanks to its lightweight, aerodynamic and thin-rubber make-up. Additional tech on board includes Piloted Park, operated by a smartphone or tablet, and wireless charging capability.

Is this not just a show car, though?

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's president and CEO, wants many of the company's cars to have autonomous driving software by 2020. So the IDS concept could be closer to the showroom than you think.

Matt Robinson - 29 Oct 2015

2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Newspress.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Newspress.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Newspress.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.

2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan IDS Concept. Image by Nissan.    - Nissan road tests
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