Taking centre stage on the Nissan stand at the IAA Show in Hannover was the Navara Dark Sky concept, which has been developed through close collaboration with the European Space Agency.
The concept consists of a heavily modified Navara and trailer designed specifically to transport astronomers and large telescopes to remote locations.
Navara Dark Sky: Space Age Technology
Nissan says the Dark Sky concept is the perfect way to demonstrate the capabilities of some of the new systems that will be introduced in 2019. The most ground-breaking of these is the ProPilot system, which is a semi-autonomous driving system that understands road and traffic situations and executes precise steering, acceleration and braking.
Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor system and Blind Spot Warning have both been upgraded to support towing, giving the driver a birds-eye-view around the vehicle and rig and making parking easier.
New to Navara is the Intelligent Towing Hitch Alignment, which is perfect for those who aren’t too confident at hitching up. It identifies the trailer and takes control of the steering, acceleration and braking to position the Navara perfectly, so all you have to worry about is dropping on.
Navara Dark Sky: Vehicle modifications
The most obvious difference between the Dark Sky and the standard Nissan Navara is the ride height; the Dark Sky sits 140mm higher. This has been achieved by altering the suspension and the fitment of all-round all-terrain tyres.
There have been no alterations to the engine or driveline; it still employs the same 2.3-litre Renault-Nissan engine generating 188hp and 450Nm hooked to a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The cab brings together the deep hues of the night sky with the blood orange tones of a sunset. Reflective orange upholstery improves visibility inside the cab, negating the need for white lights that would disrupt the astronomer’s night vision.
The Navara and trailer both feature portable EV battery packs borrowed from the Nissan Leaf. When docked in place, the battery packs are constantly in charging mode and ready for use when required.
Additional smart features include Wi-Fi, a laptop station and UHF transmission to relay data instantaneously, anywhere in the world. Eight combined radar units, on each corner of the vehicle and trailer, update the driver on the vehicle’s surroundings through the NissanConnect infotainment touch screen on the dashboard.
Navara Dark Sky: Night Vision
The trailer module incorporates a special refrigerated atmosphere, allowing the telescope to remain stable and calibrated at the optimum temperature in transit to any location.
Once at the desired, often hard-to-reach destination, the trailer module’s mechanised roof can be opened to focus the telescope on the night sky. Using a 40-centimetre primary mirror, it has the ability to give detailed views beyond the rings of Saturn, to distant galaxies, nebulae and supernovas.
Don’t expect to see this in a Nissan dealership near you, though. Nissan is using the Dark Sky concept purely as a platform to demonstrate its capabilities and offer a glimpse of the updated Navara model which is due next year.