Taking the Car-Driver Relationship to the Next Level

The latest from Toyota uses AI to take creature comforts to an almost uncomfortable level.

Integrating the latest creature comforts and connectivity-laden technologies with new automotive offerings has become increasingly common. But the latest concept from Toyota takes these comforts to an almost uncomfortable level. The LQ is a battery-electric hybrid that, in addition to providing a 185-mile range between charges, features Yui. 

Yui is an artificial intelligence platform that looks to “build an emotional bond between car and driver.” First unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2017, Yui’s interactive nature is designed in such a way that it can potentially learn from the driver in customizing their driving experience based on the driver's emotional state. 

This means Yui could determine, via voice communications and seat posture, if the driver is stressed or tired and automatically adjust interior lighting, seating positions, climate controls and even music or fragrance selections to help reduce stress or improve alertness. The seating system consists of multiple inflatable air bladders and in-seat air conditioning. When the system recognizes that the driver is tired, it inflates the air bladder in the seat back to support an upright sitting posture and directs cool air from the ventilation system. 

When conditions allow the driver to relax, such as in automated driving mode, the air bladder in the seat back gradually inflates and contracts to encourage controlled abdominal breathing. The AI functionality could also be used to provide information updates related to the trip or make infotainment suggestions. 

Roof and floor mat areas offer additional communications options in sharing road surface conditions via one million tiny, embedded mirrors that can project figures or objects on the road ahead. Not that drivers need to be looking down to see what’s going on, as an augmented reality heads-up display jointly developed with Panasonic can display information such as lane warnings, upcoming road signs, or route guidance via 3D imagery displayed through the windshield. 

As previously mentioned, an automated, not to be confused with autonomous, driving mode is also provided. This allows a system featuring multiple cameras, sonar, radar, 2D road mapping and access to parking lot cameras to determine the best parking spot after dropping drivers off at the front door. 

No timeline has been set for the commercial availability of the LQ or Yui.