A Toyota that wants to be your friend
Concept-i has an onboard pal to help keep you alert
CARS that will one day drive themselves aren’t enough; they also need to be our friends and nannies.
Trending at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA, were artificial intelligence concept cars that could learn a driver’s needs and moods, and start to anticipate them for you.
With radical technology to match its futuristic looks, the Toyota Concept-i is described as being more pal than interface. It has an onboard personal assistant called “Yui” which monitors the driver’s alertness and emotions using biometrics (the measurement of a person’s physical and behavioral characteristics), helping it identify when to switch between manual and automated driving modes.
Toyota reckons a Yui-like interface could help keep drivers safely engaged during so-called Level 2 partial autonomous driving, which has the car operating the acceleration and steering but needs the driver to monitor other systems and be prepared to take over fulltime driving.
Carmakers are worried that drivers could suffer a major alertness loss during Level 2 driving as they concentrate on things like reading or texting. Yui, by monitoring your attentiveness, could step in with a friendly voice reminder that you need to stop Whatsapping and focus on the road instead.
Manual and automated driving modes are also differentiated by different coloured lights in the footwells, as well as by digital text on the bonnet.
Other clever tech in the Concept-i is a rear projector that casts images onto the seat pillars to reduce blind spots.
Toyota says it envisions the driver, Yui and the car working together like team-mates.
A single wide-screen, 3D Head-Up Display blends into an uncluttered interior.
The exterior of the car communicates with other road users while expressing motion and excitement, for instance by winking its digital headlight.
Digital headlight can ‘wink’ at other road users - a great way to quell road rage.