Self-driving cars just became a lot more interesting all of a sudden. GM has taken the wraps off the Chevrolet FNR, an autonomous electric vehicle concept designed in Shanghai by the company’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC). It’s intended as a showcase and trial balloon for some of the automaker’s current research and upcoming tech, but it’s the styling above all that grabs you. The FNR looks like a Hot Wheels car for The Matrix. It’s mostly glass capsule, with crystal laser headlights and taillights, dual swing “dragonfly” doors, and magnetic hubless wheel electric motors.
Sit inside it, and behold the incredible wall-to-wall, entirely virtual dashboard beneath the almost-horizontal windshield. You can’t start the car without it recognizing your eye’s iris. At that point, you can take advantage of the car’s various sensors and roof-mounted radar, which map the surrounding environment and help determine the best route to your destination, along with help from an artificially intelligent personal assistant.
Once underway, the seats can swivel 180 degrees (pictured below). This way you can have a conversation with the people in the back, and if you’re like me, immediately hurl from a sudden bout of car sickness. You can also drive the car yourself with gesture control, although I’d recommend facing front again first.
As interesting as Google’s self-driving cars are — not to mention how much closer they are to actual production, and even those are pretty far off — it’s tough to beat the sheer impact of incredible styling when combined with so many examples of futuristic technology.
At the same event, Chevrolet also trotted out several of its most recent introductions, including the all-new Malibu, the Bolt EV concept we covered back in January, and the 2015 Captiva, an SUV that’s not for the U.S. But the FNR is clearly the one that stole the show. We’re still waiting for some more tech details on this thing; even if it’s not going into production as such, it would be nice to know exactly what’s going on behind the dashboard and underneath the hood (if you could call it that).
So in the meantime, here are some more external shots of the car, simply because we’re having trouble getting over just how cool it is.
Since some of you have asked, it’s a real concept car, not a rendering. Here’s its debut photo in Shanghai. It’s under ridiculous blue lighting, as you can tell, so it’s not nearly as accurate color-wise as the above photos. (Credit: General Motors).