On the Ball: Futuristic Family Car Sporting Spherical Wheels

Most of the futuristic concept cars we see are tiny one- or two-passenger things that could barely squeeze in a briefcase, let alone a typical family. It’s unusual to see a car designer take on the challenge of an energy-efficient, space-smart electric car that can actually carry several people at a time. That’s why the Nissan Torii concept from designer Jorge Andres Pinilla Fonseca is such a breath of fresh air: it’s a wildly futuristic design unlike anything on the road today, and it’s meant to hold up to four people.

Never mind the fact that it looks like one of those battery-powered back massagers: it’s got spheres instead of wheels. Spheres allow the car to roll around freely in any direction, making parallel parking anxiety a thing of the past.

Designed for the year 2030, the Nissan Torii concept was inspired by the Japanese idea of a soul-purifying “temple gate.” It operates on Li-ion batteries and is equipped with GPS to ensure that your sustainable ride doesn’t end in “where in the world are we?” disaster. There are air purifying filters behind the headlamps to ensure continued lung-fulls of fresh, clean air for everyone inside.

The truly odd thing about the design is its use of wire-driven mechanisms in place of electronic control systems. This low-tech approach to controlling the car allows for extra space for the driver and passengers, but can definitely result in some challenging mechanical breakdowns. But for now, as the car remains a far-distant concept, we can put aside our doubts to enjoy the aesthetically pleasing shape of this sweet little family car.

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See more in Concept Vehicles or under Transportation. October, 2010.