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Tokyo show: Toyota gets emotional with LQ concept

Toyota follows up Concept-i with AI-powered, autonomous LQ set for public test drives

15 Oct 2019

TOYOTA has revealed the next generation of its artificially intelligent, self-driving Concept-i from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, with the LQ to make its international debut at the Tokyo motor show later this month ahead of public test drives next year.

 

According to the Japanese brand, “the (LQ’s) technologies combine to create a unique mobility experience that builds the relationship between vehicle and driver by learning from and responding to individual preferences and needs”.

 

Key to this is Yui, an AI assistant shared with the Concept-i that provides a personalised mobility experience for the LQ’s driver, which is based on their emotional state and alertness, as well as its passengers.

 

Yui engages with occupants via various methods, including voice communication, in-vehicle illumination, air-conditioning and fragrances, among others.

 

Toyota says it plans to improve Yui and expand its functionality by integrating it with other products, such as smartphones, in the future.

 

Due to the presence of its steering wheel, the LQ is classified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a Level 4 autonomous vehicle. Its capabilities extend to dropping off passengers at their destination and finding a parking space in a nearby lot.

 

Critically, the LQ features an augmented reality (AR) head-up display that provides the driver with key information in a three-dimensional area seen through the windshield. Its display is equivalent in size to 230 inches and has a depth of 7-41m ahead of the vehicle.

 

In what is claimed to be a world first, the LQ has an advanced seating system that uses multiple inflatable air bladders and in-seat air-conditioning to help keep the driver awake or relaxed depending on the driving situation to further support safety.

 

When this system recognises that the driver is tired, it will inflate the air bladder in the seat backrest to support an upright sitting posture while directing cool air to the area.

 

Alternatively, the air bladder can help the driver relax by gradually inflating and contracting when in the LQ’s automated drive mode.

 

The 1680kg LQ is 4530mm long, 1840mm wide and 1480mm tall and has a 2700mm wheelbase, making it about the same size as the Corolla sedan, although it seats four instead of five.

 

The LQ is yet another example of a battery-electric vehicle, but Toyota is yet to reveal specifications for the zero-emissions drivetrain. It has confirmed, however, that the vehicle’s driving range is about 300km.

 

Compared to the Concept-i, the LQ has an identical exterior design, save for the addition of traditional side mirrors, the repositioning of the ‘Toyota’ badges, and the blue trim changing colour to gold.

 

Inside, the LQ’s changes are much more noticeable thanks to the introduction of near-production versions of the steering wheel, driver’s side dashboard, centre console and door panels, although the overall styling remains a familiar proposition.

 

“In the past, our love for cars was built on their ability to take us to distant places and enable our adventures,” said Toyota Motor Corporation LQ development leader Daisuke Ido.

 

“Advanced technology gives us the power to match customer lifestyles with new opportunities for excitement and engagement.

 

“With the LQ, we are proud to propose a vehicle that can deliver a personalised experience, meet each driver’s unique mobility needs and build an even stronger bond between car and driver.”

 

The public test drives are scheduled to run from June to September next year at Odaiba, a hi-tech entertainment hub located on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan.

 

Dubbed Yui Project Tours 2020, the four-month event will allow about 2000 users to access a Yui smartphone application that organises each public test drive and learns about each individual occupant before and during the experience.


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