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CES: Toyota’s Concept-i uses AI to drive itself

Artificial intelligence used to power Toyota’s Concept-i self-driving vehicle

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Toyota logo5 Jan 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

TOYOTA has unveiled its Concept-i artificial intelligence-powered, autonomous showcar at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is aimed at revolutionising the interaction between driver and vehicle.

Though the concept will likely never make it to production, Toyota is expected to use the Concept-i as a testbed for its future technologies and, at its core, includes an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can learn and adapt to suit individual drivers.

Built by Toyota’s in-house Calty Design Research team – the same group responsible for the 2014 Toyota FT-1 concept and 2003 FJ Cruiser concept – in conjunction with the Toyota Innovation Hub, the Concept-i places an emphasis on user interface (UI) and has dubbed its AI “Yui” (the phonetic spelling of UI).

Looking less like a car and more like a sensory deprivation tank, the Concept-i features invisible rear wheels, LED headlights installed underneath the front bumper and a rear-end reminiscent of a Tron light cycle.

Ingress involves navigating the forward opening scissor doors – upon which Yui can display a welcome message – where users will be greeted by a futuristic interior swathed in sleek white surfaces, with gold highlights and blue lighting throughout.

Through the dashboard, drivers will be able to interact with Yui – which has been designed to work across various cultures and languages – where it can communicate driving information using light, sound and touch capacities.

According to Toyota, the technology can “measure emotion” giving the Concept-i the “ability to use mobility to improve quality of life”.

The AI system can take control of the vehicle and operate under self-driving mode, or else Yui will monitor the driver’s attention and read road conditions to help supplement safety in the manual driving mode.

AI-driven safety features will include images being broadcast on the interior C-pillars (essentially eliminating blind spots for drivers), as well as a next-generation head-up display designed to keep attention on the road.

According to Toyota, the AI will also be able to build upon interactions and learn over time to develop a better interface for individual drivers.

Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations Bob Carter said the Japanese car-making giant envisioned a future where vehicles would not only be able to assist drivers, but also to give them feedback.

“At Toyota, we recognise that the important question isn’t whether future vehicles will be equipped with automated or connected technologies,” he said.

“It is the experience 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 return.”

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