It is amazing what automakers are doing with new technology to retain old customers and win new fans as competition in the automobile industry gets tougher. A car that greets its owners and passengers as they walk towards it has been produced by Toyota Motor Corporation.
The vehicle, which was meant to be a display of Toyota’s car for the future, looks like something out of a science fiction movie, says Cable News Network.
The Concept-i as the vehicle is called was unveiled last Wednesday at CES 2017, a global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow in Las Vegas, the United States.
A report by the CNN says the car sits four people, but notes that that is about the only thing the Concept-i has in common with today’s cars.
“Its doors are made almost entirely of glass to give passengers a better view of the road beneath them. The rear wheels are built into the car’s sleek white frame,” it states.
It also says the screen on the car’s rear displays warnings such as “watch out” for anyone driving behind the Concept-i.
Although the car is said to be designed with the future in mind, it still requires a human driver. The car comes with autonomous driving features, but they are designed to be used only in challenging driving situations.
A report by an online journal, Evening Standards, says the Concept-i is fitted with an intelligent assistant — similar to Siri on Apple devices — which communicates through sound, light and touch to alert the driver about road conditions and ensure they are not falling asleep at the wheel.
It says the concept car can be manually controlled or put into self-driving mode and the intelligent assistant, called Yui, greets driver and passengers as they approach.
The report quotes Toyota Motor Corporation as saying that Yui will build a relationship with the car’s owner by learning driving patterns and schedules and can even measure emotional states via in-car sensors.
It states, “Designers ditched the traditional central console in favour of giving information only when it is needed; including coloured LED lights in the foot-wells to indicate if the car is in autonomous or manual mode. Projectors warn about blind spots and bonnet lights warn other drivers and pedestrians that the car is in self-driving mode.
“On the rear of the car, messages can warn other drivers about potential hazards.”
The report quotes Toyota’s Senior Vice-President of Automotive Operations, Bob Carter, as saying, “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.”
“As long as there’s beautiful twisty roads and fantastic scenery, people are going to want the experience of navigating that themselves,” a Toyota Design Manager for the Concept-I, William Chergosky, said.
CNN also said that Toyota did not want the vehicle to come across as an impersonal, soulless technology. It intentionally picked bright warm colours such as white and pink for the concept model.
It further quoted Chergosky as saying, “It’s easy to design technology in a cold way. You have to find a way to endear the technology to people to make them want to drive it.”
Although the report gave an indication that Toyota would start testing the vehicle in Japan in the next few years, it added, “Don’t count on the Concept-i hitting the roads anytime soon.”