This is the Volkswagen Nanospyder. A two seater Ariel Atom-like car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells powering in-wheel electric motors. It has a strong spine, on which other components is bolted on, and the body panels are constructed from latticework of billions of tiny programmable nano devices each measuring less than half a millimetre in daimeter. These devices can individually be programmed to be as strong or weak as required, meaning the vehicle could have active crumple zones.

These nanopanels are also coated with materials which can inflate to provide further cushioning upon impact, and also doubles as a solar power panel, which assists the hydrogen fuel cell in powering the in-wheel motors.

Of course, such a vehicle doesn’t exist. The Volkswagen Nanospyder is actually the vision of three Volkswagen designers, their idea of what the future car would be. It was conceptualised as an entry for the Design Los Angeles conference. The challenge was to design a car that can make the most of California without harming the environment.

One more photo after the jump.