Toyota has unveiled the Concept-i, a new autonomous vehicle that the Japanese carmaker says represents a “friendlier, people-focused” approach to future mobility.
Revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the car has been produced by Toyota’s CALTY design centre in California, with user experience technology sourced from the Toyota Innovation Hub in San Francisco.
The basic philosophy for the design is “kinetic warmth,” a belief that mobility technology should be “warm, welcoming and, above all, fun”. Concept-i also uses an advanced artificial intelligence system that Toyota engineers claim anticipates people’s needs.
CALTY’s designers are even said to have built the vehicle from the inside out, starting with a next generation user interface that provides the platform for the vehicle’s AI agent, nicknamed “Yui”.
The vehicle’s interior features sweeping lines and a design that enables Yui to use light, sound and even touch to communicate critical information. For example, instead of using screens on the centre console, information is revealed where and when it is needed. Coloured lighting in the footwells indicates whether the vehicle is in automated or manual drive; discreet projectors in the rear deck relay images on the seat pillar to warn about blind spots; and a next generation head-up display helps keep the driver’s eyes and attention on the road.
Even the vehicle’s exterior is designed to enable Concept-i to engage with the world around it. Yui appears on the door panels to welcome driver and passengers as they approach the vehicle. The rear of the car displays messages about upcoming turns or warnings of potential hazards, while the front communicates whether automated or manual drive is engaged.
“At Toyota we recognise that the important question isn’t whether future vehicles will be equipped with automated or connected technologies, it is the experience of the people who engage with those vehicles,” says Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior vice president in the USA. “Thanks to Concept-i and the power of artificial intelligence, we think the future is a vehicle that can engage with people in return.”