Nissan IMx Kuro Concept is a Mind Reader

Updated EV crossover debuts in Geneva with brain wave scanning tech

Its polarizing design may not gain it any awards for its beauty, but the Nissan IMx Kuro concept has to be one of the smartest vehicles to debut at the Geneva Motor Show. When not operating in fully autonomous mode, the electric crossover can read a driver’s brain waves and help them improve their reaction times on the road.

The IMx Kuro features a future version of Nissan’s ProPilot system that enables fully autonomous driving. Drivers can choose to take control of the car, or sit back and let the vehicle do the work. In autonomous mode, the steering wheel folds into the dashboard and the seats recline to give occupants more space in the cabin. The vehicle also has the ability to park itself in a spot that can link up to shore power and return electricity to the grid when not being driven.

Perhaps the most interesting feature on this crossover is Nissan’s new brain-to-vehicle technology. For this system to work, a driver must wear a device to measure brain wave activity, which will be read by the car’s autonomous systems. By anticipating that the driver intends to slow down or steer the wheel one way, the vehicle can help the driver accomplish these tasks faster than the driver could alone. Nissan says drivers largely won’t notice the help. Even when the car is driving itself, the brain-to-vehicle technology is still active. If the system detects a passenger is tired or uncomfortable, it can reconfigure the driving style to better accommodate occupants.

You normally wouldn’t expect much power from an electric autonomous crossover, but the IMx Kuro can put out 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. This power comes from an electric motor at both axles. Range is estimated at 600 km (373 miles), but this number is likely not comparable to U.S. standards.

The vehicle builds off an earlier IMx concept Nissan introduced at the Tokyo auto show last year. That model didn’t feature brain-to-vehicle technology, and it also featured a slightly softer look compared to this new concept. To test whether an autonomous vehicle could adopt a bolder look, Nissan updated the grille design and ditched the white paint job for a strong metallic gray color.

“Taken all together, these relatively minor changes have combined to give the IMx KURO a completely different personality, and the addition of the KURO moniker reflects that,” said global design boss Alfonso Albaisa in a statement. “It looks purposeful and indestructible – which we think is an interesting position for this concept and the application of technologies that is showcased by the vehicle.” Kuro translates to “black” in Japanese.

Inside, the Kuro features wood grain-pattern trim and an open cabin with few buttons and knobs. Instead of tons of physical controls, drivers can control the instrument panel with hand gestures and eye movements.