Nissan's Smiling Car Concept Turns Road Rage to Highway Happiness


Grinning grills may be about to make a comeback, and I don't mean those mile-wide chrome smiles formerly plastered across the snouts of Detroit's finned fifties freeway flyers. Nope, you won't find much chrome on Nissan's "Smiling Vehicle" concept but you WILL find much to smile about... in fact, you'll be smiling back.

The Nissan Motor Design Center and Hara Design Institute are displaying the prototype vehicle - actually a shrunken Nissan Cube - at the Tokyo Fiber '09 Senseware show. The car's body panels are covered in a soft & stretchy polyurethane elastomer fiber made by Asahi Kasei called ROICA.

Not only does this allow the car to have flexible outer skin (ideal for absorbing parking lot dings), it allows for the installation of animatronic hardware hidden beneath the panels that can distort areas of the body by 500% to 900%. Even more importantly, the skin has "memory" and can snap right back to its original configuration. Check out this short video of the Smiling Car in action at the Senseware show:

NDC and HDI are touting a number of applications for ROICA that go beyond automotive use, including clothing (outerwear, innerwear and sportswear) and shoes, but by adding a mechanical smile to the Nissan's face they instantly create an empathetic bond with human onlookers. Smile at somebody and they'll usually smile back, and vice versa - try it! Now how would you feel if a car driving in your direction should suddenly flash a grin?

According to Diginfo-TV's report, "Sounding a horn has negatives connotations, but if cars could smile a new method of communication while driving could evolve. This work considers the car as an extension of the driver’s character, and suggests that it might give rise to emotional exchanges." (via Technabob and Diginfo-TV) 

May 13, 2010
by Anonymous

Soo Kawaii!!

Soo Kawaii!!

Apr 5, 2011
by gordwick

It looks unreal to me, it's

It looks unreal to me, it's probably because of the color, I don't know. I am a Nissan fan, I got my car from Nissan Philadelphia so I know few things about their products and customer service, no complains so far. I hope I'll get the chance to see the smiling car for real in local car dealerships.

Aug 4, 2011
by Anonymous

Smiling Car Concept

This new Nissan parts concept allow the car to have flexible outer skin which is ideal for absorbing parking lot dings. It can distort areas of the body by 500% to 900% because of the installation of animatronic hardware hidden beneath the panels.

Aug 30, 2011
by micheenlewis

Nissan's Smiling Car Concept

Nissan's Smiling Car Concept is definitly a new creation with perfect appreance and automobile equipments perfection which  i had never acknowledged before this. Above description about Smiling Vehicle is really understanable by all viewers for such inspiring concept.

Feb 24, 2012
by AllanBrouwer

It's lovely and cute. It's a

It's lovely and cute. It's a car for women; my wife would absolutely love it. She knows nothing about cars, I mean she can't even drive properly, even if from to time she reads about them but like all women she's easily impressed by these things. The point is I bet a smiling car will be for her like a pink unicorn toy for our 3 years old daughter.