A glimpse into the future

Toyota has outlined its vision for a future where cars and humans will work together as partners to deliver the freedom and pleasure of mobility to as many people as possible.

A family of three concept cars envisages a world where cars understand people, applying artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise emotions and estimate driver preferences combined with automated driving technology for maximum safety.

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The three vehicles – all with electric drivetrains – will be displayed at next week’s Tokyo Motor Show.

They expand on the ideas presented with the ground-breaking four-seat Concept-i. Revealed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, it was developed with a focus on building an immersive user experience.

Toyota has now added the Concept-i RIDE, a two-seat vehicle designed so that anyone can have freedom of mobility, including wheelchair users and the elderly.

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Additionally, the Concept-i WALK – a vehicle designed for using in areas used by pedestrians – has been added to the series to enable free movement on footpaths and other walking areas.

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All three concept cars feature the AI Agent – the name given to the function that has the ability to understand people.

It provides appropriate responses and actions to a driver’s questions or requests using voice recognition; anticipates the driver’s needs by seamlessly monitoring and protecting the driver; and actively initiates communication and offers advice to the driver.

Toyota Concept-i is able to determine a driver’s emotion and level of alertness by reading expressions, actions and tone of voice.

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It estimates the driver’s preferences by comparing general information such as news on the web with information on individuals such as social media activity, GPS information, and conversation history in the car.

Concept-i constantly monitors the driver’s condition and the car, enabling it to switch to automated driving if the driver is overcome by a dangerous or high-stress situation.

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It will stimulate the senses to rouse drivers into an alert state when they feel drowsy, and help them feel more relaxed at times of higher stress.

Its AI Agent technology engages in conversation based on the emotions and preferences of the driver. The car suggests topics of interest based on the mood of the driver, achieving a completely new style of two-way conversation.

It also creates an “emotion map” by periodically plotting the driver’s emotion and GPS data. By collecting data on individual emotions and using this information as big data, the Toyota Concept-i series can deliver fresh experiences by suggesting new, enjoyable routes as slight detours.

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The vehicle design projects a futuristic silhouette and a simple and open interior with the Agent located at the centre of the instrument panel. It also provides a new user experience through intuitive interaction with the Agent using a 3D head-up display.

Toyota plans to conduct road tests of vehicles equipped with some of the Concept-i functions in Japan by around 2020. It has a range of about 300km.

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Toyota Concept-i RIDE features gull-wing doors, an electric universal sliding seat and a joystick to achieve user-friendly operation with a range of 100-150km.

Opening and closing of the gull-wing door supports loading and unloading of a wheelchair while an electric seat slides to the entrance for easy transfer between a wheelchair and the car. The wheelchair can be easily stored in the rear section.

A joystick eliminates steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, making the vehicle easy to use by almost anyone. The compact vehicle size enables wheelchair users to park in regular single-vehicle spaces.

The AI Agent actively provides information that supports and enhances outings, such as the location of barrier-free facilities.

The driver’s seat is positioned at the centre when one person is driving. Toyota also envisions this vehicle participating in ride-sharing services.

Toyota Concept-i WALK is compact with a cruising range of 10-20km, offering short-distance movement such as between sightseeing spots.

Three wheels, a wheelbase variable mechanism and a steering function make it possible to operate easily. It can rotate on the spot and its low floor enables people to get on and off easily.

Conversation with the Agent and data obtained from sensors in the handles. If the vehicle senses danger while moving, it will warn the driver and take avoidance measures.

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