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All our cars are green!

Byline: By STEVE HUGHES

BRITISH designers have created the world's most environmentally-friendly 4x4 - and it's on a mission to save the planet.

Based at Nissan's European design headquarters in London they have made a mobile science laboratory capable of venturing to the most inhospitable places on earth.

Called Terranaut, it is a concept car that will be on display at next month's Geneva Motor Show.

Nissan's product planning boss, Francois Bancon, says: "The Terranaut will protect its occupants from the extremes of the world's environments.

"Terranaut has been designed for observation and communication in all four corners of the world. It is very much a statement about how the 4x4 can help us discover more about our world.

"Capable of being driven deep into the Outback, to the middle of the desert or to the frozen wastes of the tundra, Terranaut is an observation and communications centre as well as being a mobile science lab. Satellite information systems allow data access and transfer all over the planet."

Built to house three operators - a pilot, co-pilot and lab technician/scientist - the vehicle has enough refrigerated storage space to house food, water and other provisions for stays of more than a week out in the field.

Lightweight tents, sleeping bags built for extreme conditions and cooking facilities are carried in storage compartments in the doors.

Centrally placed in the rear is an integrated air lock drawer into which the pilot or co-pilot outside the vehicle can place samples for clinical analysis by the scientist left inside the cabin.

The deep rear window houses external displays and touchscreens for data access by those outside and the exterior of the vehicle is dominated by a glass dome over the rear portion of the roof.

As well as providing a window on the world for the occupants inside, the sphere doubles as an escape hatch should the ground beneath the Terranaut give way for any reason. Other features on the roof are a circular housing for satellite positioning, transmitting and scanning equipment and a telescopic arm on to which a day/night view camera can be mounted.

When fully extended this can transmit 360-degree "helicopter view" images from around Terranaut to the vehicle itself and to expedition headquarters.

A single revolving seat with an integrated computer keyboard is situated beneath the glass roof dome.

plugs & points

It's a mobile science laboratory capable of venturing to the most inhospitable places on earth.

CAPTION(S):

MISSION: Inside and outside the futuristic, environmentally-friendly 4x4 Terranaut
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Feb 17, 2006
Words:417
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