A Toy­ota that wants to be your friend

Con­cept-i has an on­board pal to help keep you alert

The Star Early Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - MO­TOR­ING STAFF

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.

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