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Toyota expands Concept-i series; advanced AI learns from and aims to grow with the driver

Toyota Motor Corporation is expanding its “Toyota Concept-i” electric concept car into a series that embodies the future vision of a mobility society through which artificial intelligence (AI) enables cars to understand the driver, effectively allowing people and cars to become partners.

In addition to the four-wheel model Toyota Concept-i exhibited at the 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January this year (earlier post), Toyota has added a universal small mobility electric vehicle and a walking area mobility electric vehicle. These will be shown at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

Toyota Concept-i series. Left to right: the new Concept-i RIDE, the new Concept-i WALK, and the original Concept-i. Click to enlarge.

The core technology common to the Toyota Concept-i series is a technology that understands people (LEARN), applying AI to recognize emotions and estimate driver preferences. The technology that understands people (LEARN) and automated driving technology combine to lead the driver to safety and provide peace of mind (PROTECT). In addition, by combining the technology with the agent technology, it will be possible to advance technology to the point that the driver’s feelings can be anticipated, leading to new Fun to Drive experiences (INSPIRE).

To provide new experiences and excitements to more people based on the idea of “freedom and pleasure of mobility for all,” Toyota has added a universal small mobility vehicle to the series so that anyone can have freedom of mobility, including wheelchair users and the elderly. Additionally, a pedestrian zone mobility vehicle has been added to the series to enable free movement in the same space as pedestrians.

The AI Agent, which understands people, is able to disengage and re-engage with the driver across the vehicles in the series, thereby supporting seamless mobility and being together with the driver to achieve safe and fun mobility.

The main features of the Concept-i are:

  • Technology that understands people (LEARN). Concept-i estimates emotion and level of alertness by reading the driver’s expressions, actions, and tone of voice in a complex manner. It compares general information such as news on the web with information on individuals such as social media activity, GPS information, and conversation history in the car, and estimates the driver’s preferences based on re-occurring topics that arise.

    Technologies such as deep learning are used for the technology that understands people (LEARN), such as measuring emotions and estimating preferences. Based on this technology, the Concept-i series provides value innovation in the areas of safety and peace of mind (PROTECT) and new Fun to Drive experiences (INSPIRE).

  • Safety and peace of mind (PROTECT). In addition to the car’s external conditions, Concept-i estimates the driver’s condition using technology that understands people, and monitors the reliability of the driver and the car. For example, if the car’s reliability is high and car support is deemed necessary, such as a situation in which the driver is overcome by a dangerous or high-stress situation, Concept-i switches to automated driving. Based on Toyota’s “Mobility Teammate Concept” for automated driving, which aims to both watch over and assist drivers as needed, Concept-i guides with safety and peace of mind.

    Furthermore, it supports the driver by stimulating the five senses, including vision, touch, and smell depending on the driver’s emotion, degree of fatigue, and level of alertness to rouse drivers into an alert state when they feel drowsy, and to help drivers experiencing higher levels of stress feel more relaxed.

  • New Fun to Drive experiences (INSPIRE). Concept-i engages in conversation based on the emotions and preferences of the driver. The car suggests topics of interest based on the mood of the driver, achieving a completely new style of two-way free conversation. In addition, it creates an “Emotion Map” by periodically mapping the driver’s emotion and GPS data. By collecting data on individual emotions and using this information as big data, the Toyota Concept-i series can deliver fresh experiences by suggesting new, enjoyable routes as slight detours.

    The vehicle design comprises a cabin with a forward projecting futuristic silhouette and a simple and open interior, and starting from the Agent located at the center of the instrument panel, the design theme flows from the inside out with seamless styling in which the design of the instrument panel continues to the body exterior. In addition, it provides a new user experience through intuitive HMI interaction with the Agent using a 3D-HUD (head-up display).

The electric vehicle has a range of approximately 300 km (186 miles). Toyota plans to have the Concept-i on the road by around 2020 and conduct road tests of vehicles equipped with some of the concept car’s functions from this exhibition in Japan.

CONCEPT i-RIDE. The new Toyota Concept-i RIDE is a small mobility vehicle that emphasizes universality based on the concept of “user-friendly city mobility.” It features gull-wing doors, an electric universal sliding seat, and a joystick, achieving user-friendly operation for wheelchair users.

The seat layout and automated driving functions make it possible for anyone to drive safely and securely. Use with sharing services is also envisioned.

The model features gull-wing doors that provide a large opening and an electric seat that slides to the entrance, so that even wheelchair users who feel uneasy when moving between the wheelchair and the car can transfer easily. Also, the opening and closing of the gull-wing door supports loading and unloading of the wheelchair, and the operation of the seat has been designed so that the wheelchair can be easily stored in the rear section.

In addition, a joystick is used, eliminating the steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, and the vehicle size enables wheelchair users to park and enter/exit a common parking space for one vehicle, with emphasis placed on easy operation while driving, and stopping or parking.

Moreover, the AI Agent, which is a feature of the Toyota Concept-i series, is positioned on the large-size display of the instrument panel and actively provides information that supports and enhances outings, such as the provision of information on barrier-free facilities.

The driver’s seat is positioned at the center when driving. While parking and stopping, driving assistance functions such as automated parking and automated valet parking, are employed.

The electric vehicle seats two, and has a range of approximately 100-150 km (61-93 miles).

CONCEPT-i WALK. Three wheels, a wheelbase variable mechanism, steering function, and a low floor make it easy to use and does not necessitate the use of specific clothing or footwear. Use via sharing services and such at sightseeing spots and other locations is envisioned, providing support at outside locations.

The Concept-i WALK can rotate on the spot within a length less than a person’s stride and width less than a person’s shoulder width. It is a compact vehicle taking up space equivalent to that of a pedestrian while walking. It also understands the driver based on conversation with the Agent and data obtained from sensors in the handles and guides the driver to a safe state depending on the situation.

If the vehicle senses danger while driving, it will actively warn the driver and automatically take avoidance measures. Furthermore, three wheels and a wheelbase variable mechanism that corresponds to speed are used, thus ensuring stability when stopping and driving.

By using a steering function, riders do not need to operate the Toyota Concept-i WALK by shifting their body weight, which enables anyone to operate it easily. The lowered floor enables people can to get on and off easily.

With the Toyota Concept-i WALK, Toyota envisions sharing services that take advantage of the characteristic of the “AI Agent” to disengage and re-engage with the rider across the vehicles in the series, thereby being together with the riders. The aim is for a mobility vehicle that can be used as part of short distance movement in coordination with other transportation facilities, such as use at outside locations and when walking around sightseeing spots.

The electric vehicle has a range of 10-20 km.


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