Toyota Concept-i attempts to humanize the cold, driverless future with a charismatic concept at CES 2017
But Toyota has set out to switch all of that, providing its vision for the future of driving circa two thousand thirty a true human touch, in a way only the Japanese could pull off.
The Concept-i is Toyota’s vision for their autonomous driving future circa 2030, and it’s accomplish with a learning AI called Yui.
Meet the Toyota Concept-i and your fresh individual assistant, Yui. More than just a plain means of transportation, Toyota set out to make this concept warm, inviting, and actively friendly towards its driver, with the capability to gauge your emotions, habits, and other vital information about your personality and learn from them.
The front headlights can blink and display different information, making it seem as if the car itself is actually alive, or at least aware.
Designed in Newport Beach, CA and using technology from Toyota’s research center in San Francisco, the Concept-i was created around the theory of “kinetic warmth,” whatever that means.
Evidently, it means to Toyota that a car should embark with the driver, and become a friend and companion, rather than just another device or device. It may sound wishy-washy and downright insane at very first, but when you consider the onslaught of humanoid technologies and other “individual assistants” like the Google Home and Amazon Alexa, things begin to make more sense. If your speaker can tell you a joke or make you a restaurant reservation, why shouldn’t a car be able to as well?
The interior is meant to be an immersive AI practice that learns your preferences, from ambient light color to temperature, driving manners, and more.
“At Toyota, we recognize that the significant question isn’t whether future vehicles will be tooled with automated or connected technologies,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota. “It is the practice of the people who engage with those vehicles. Thanks to Concept-i and the power of artificial intelligence, we think the future is a vehicle that can engage with people in come back.”
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) unit at the heart of the Concept-i is what gives it human-like qualities, and as such, Toyota’s development team gave it a human name: Yui.
As your own mobile individual assistant, the entire interior and exterior are designed to greet you and provide information that’s relevant at the time, all with a friendly, human touch.
Yui is all around the car, on the inwards and out, and can even display information to alert other drivers, like telling “Witness Out!” on the rear panel when the brakes are deployed in an emergency.
The design even features a headlight projection that blinks periodically, and safety indicators meant to communicate with other vehicles that say things like “Observe Out!” when the brakes are applied. Yui is all around the car at all times, welcoming you with a pulsing light when you open the door, akin to a handshake. It’s all very gimmicky, very entertaining, and very appalling. (Forgive me for eyeing visions of Skynet dance through my head when thinking about the ramifications of a learning AI system. )
And however the design goes after a somewhat conventional vehicle form, touches like the enclosed rear wheels, fractal patterns all over, and those awesome quad-scissor doors make things much more outlandish and futuristic, as you’d want and expect from a concept.
Yui will even excellent you as you treatment the vehicle, which is either a tantalizing or horrifying proposition, depending on who you ask.
While not terribly groundbreaking, it is an interesting take on the inescapable self-driving future, and one that is especially surprising coming from a company like Toyota. For an automaker that’s churned out as many cold, personality-less machines as possible in the States for the better part of the last forty years, it’s refreshing to see the human touch come back, and in utter force.
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