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Nissan builds twirly-cab sideways electric pod-car

Includes Teletubbian dashboard boncebot for added road rage capacity

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Enormous Far-Eastern car firm Nissan has come out with some radical(ish) new ideas to tackle the leading cause of violent premature death in rich countries - which is car accidents (just in case you were thinking terrorism, crime, drugs, music piracy, malware or something). The crafty Japanese engineers also have plans for dealing with road rage, and the perennial snag of getting one's car into a small space.

These ideas are embodied in the Pivo 2 concept vehicle, recently unveiled by Nissan. The Pivo 2 is powered by a Li-ion battery pack, but frankly if that was all it had we'd have yawned and turned the page. More interestingly, it has a rotating passenger compartment (in fact, the word "podule" seems more appropriate) which allows the occupants to face in any direction. Better still, its wheels can swivel through 90 degrees, allowing it to simply move sideways into that tight kerbside slot. And in the crowning touch, the Pivo features a "robot agent" whose user interface takes the form of a rotating, nodding R2-D2-esque head protruding from a dashboard orifice.

Video? But of course:

Don't care for reversing, three-point turns etc? Simply turn the cab around and drive off the other way. Lovely. No need - should you be fleeing from the law and encounter a roadblock - to do any of those tricky handbrake turns, either. Just stop, spin and drive away. (It would probably be best to stick to Italian Job-style urban capers, however, as petrol-powered police cars will overhaul the Pivo on the motorway.)

"You can go everywhere without worrying about your driving skills," says Masahiko Tabe of Nissan's advanced vehicle development group, as quoted by Reuters.

"Thanks to the highly innovative Robotic Agent, you are never alone in the Pivo 2," add the company PRS in their release.

"With conversations possible in Japanese and English, the Robotic Agent has been created to work with Pivo 2 to make every journey less stressful. It provides a unique interface through which to communicate with Pivo 2 on everything from basic vehicle functions through to the nearest available parking."

The Robotic Agent apparently integrates various technologies, not least the ability to monitor the driver's face to detect undesirable conditions such as road rage or unconsciousness. It can then respond with helpful or soothing suggestions and chitchat.

"Are you sleeping? There's a cafe 500m ahead," the dashboard droid might chirp, in a case of doziness at the wheel. It wasn't clear from the report whether this was meant in the sense of "You look like you could do with a coffee," or "Holy shit, you're going to hit that cafe".

Sadly for those who'd love a rotating, electric talking car, Nissan has no plans at the moment to offer Pivo 2s for public sale.®

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