For most of us, the days when we were happy as long as our vehicles could reliably get us from point A to point B have passed. We expect more and more from our cars, including fuel efficiency, low emissions, GPS navigation systems, high quality sound, comfort on par with our living room lounge chairs, all-weather climate control, and even rear-view cameras. But what if our cars could anticipate our needs and intelligently respond?
The Toyota Concept-i takes personal mobility to the next level with an artificial intelligence system that learns your habits, preferences, and quirks to give you a better driving experience. Nicknamed “Yui,” this AI will “learn from and grow with the driver” in ways that will surprise you. The car features self-driving and manual driving modes, so you can switch back and forth from being in control or handing it over to the automated system.
Not only does the Concept-i “Yui” system keep track of your driving patterns and schedules, how you like your seat adjusted, and temperature preferences, it takes note of your emotions and maps them against your car’s specific location to help improve safety. This can come in handy in high-traffic areas, tricky intersections, and difficult road conditions.
Yui uses sound and light to communicate with the driver, warning you about blind spots and telling you when the system is in automated driving mode. A “heads-up” display is projected onto the windshield so you can keep your attention on the road instead of a dashboard screen. The exterior of the car will communicate with people outside, too, spelling out text messages like “watch out,” “turning right,” and “hello.”
As far as looks go, the Toyota Concept-i heads firmly in the direction of futurism, finally moving beyond the aesthetics we’ve been stuck with for decades on end to something a little more exciting. The massive windshield extends all the way over the roof of the car, the rear wheels are protected within the body, and the interior boasts a classic spaceship vibe.
“The forward-thinking minds at our Calty Design Research Center have dreamed up a concept of automotive UX that is intelligent, friendly, and helpful,” says Toyota. “Intelligent cars that continually learn, and, in turn, keep getting smarter. Brilliant cars that get to know you and your needs, and then start to anticipate them for you. A bond between car, driver, and society that, like any great relationship, revolves around trust and loyalty. Helping to bring this vision to life is Yui. Yui is a liaison between you, your passengers, and your car.”
Toyota calls Yui “less of a machine, more like a pal,” with an emphasis on friendliness and approachability. Biometric sensors can even tell if you’re feeling sad or angry, allowing Yui to take care of you like a friend would, making driving recommendations and if necessary, taking over so you get to your destination safely.
The car maker debuted the Concept-i at CES 2017, to the delight of attendees, but it’s unclear whether it’ll ever actually go into production. Some of the technology is probably a bit too far out there to hit the road anytime soon, but it’s an exciting look at what we might be driving in a decade or so.