When developing the front seats for the 2013 Nissan Altima, the company's engineers made use of seating and posture research from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to help reduce the body fatigue typically associated with long drives.
According to NASA, the least fatiguing seats are those that come closest to a "neutral posture" – a relaxed position that the human body takes on in a weightless environment, where there are no forces of gravity acting upon it.
That position can vary among individuals of different size and shape but there are generally accepted standards.
According to NASA, in its most relaxed state, the human body assumes a trunk-to-thigh angle of approximately 128 degrees, with the trunk forming a slightly S-shaped curve, outward in the upper region an inward in the lower (lumbar) area. Elbows are typically bent at close to 90 degrees knees a bit less acute.
According to Nissan, the new Altima's "zero-gravity" articulated seats incorporate continuous support from the pelvis to the chest and more broadly distributed localized deformation characteristics. These featurea are said to help reduce muscular and spinal loads and improve blood flow – thereby helping reduce fatigue over long periods behind the wheel.
Seat surface perforations provide increased ventilation, breathability and comfort. Heated front seats are also available.
"Reducing driver fatigue is something that shouldn't be limited to luxury vehicles, especially as Canadians are making longer commutes and looking for alternatives to flying for business trips or family vacations," said Judy Wheeler, Director of Marketing, Nissan Canada.
While the Altima is the first vehicle to benefit from the "zero-gravity" seat technology, a company source has been quoted saying that it will be applied to all new Nissan vehicles as they are developed.