Auto Tech

Nissan is testing its weird Invisible-to-Visible tech in Japan using 5G

And it's all happening in adorable little vans.

Nissan

Nissan came to CES 2019 with a system it called Invisible-to-Visible (I2V), a pie-in-the-sky imagining of future autonomous-vehicle cabins. While it seemed far off (real far off) at the time, the company is already testing aspects of the system in Japan with a little help from a major telecom.

Nissan announced Tuesday that it's testing its I2V technology at the Grandrive proving ground in Yokosuka, Japan. Because data and data processing factors heavily into I2V's platform, the automaker partnered with Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo, which lends its 5G connectivity to the equation.

This joint field test serves a few different purposes. First, it'll be a test of how well NTT Docomo's 5G network can handle the data being sent wirelessly to and from the vehicle. Nissan will also see how well its digital avatar communication system works. Yes, you read that correctly.

It's hard to take a picture of invisible data connections, so, here's the van Nissan's using.

Nissan

I2V is some weird, wild stuff. For a quick overview, it basically takes in a whole bunch of data from the world around the car and brings that inside, highlighting important things like pedestrians, road signs or another car lurking in an obscured alleyway. That data can go to the cloud, where later, it can be used to help those in other vehicles.

The real weird part is Metaverse, which beams three-dimensional avatars into the vehicle that can communicate with the occupants. It could be used for a variety of things -- Nissan envisions professional drivers offering advice on a tricky line, or out-of-towners talking with locals to find a good place to eat. Heck, it could even bring your family along for the ride (even if you specifically left them at home).

While the 3D avatars probably aren't part of the equation yet, the less weird stuff sounds pretty close to what other automakers are doing in the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) space, so it's good to see Nissan moving forward with this tech, which can really help drivers both now and in our far-off, 3D-avatar future.