Toyota Concept-i (CES 2017) (c) Getty Images

CES 2017: Toyota’s Concept-i is a car that can communicate with drivers

On 4 January at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Toyota Motors gave the public their first look at the company’s new concept car, the Concept-i. Perhaps the most interesting facet of this vehicle is that it is a car that is able to “talk with humans” due to the inclusion of artificial intelligence housed within the vehicle.

The first characteristic of the Concept-i is its “Learn” technology, allowing it to understand humans. Using the latest in artificial intelligence technology, Toyota was able to create a complex system that allows for a person’s emotions to be recognized and their preferences recorded, allowing the AI to better understand the people with whom it communicates. Drivers’ expressions, movements, and vigilance are recorded as data, and SNS communications and behavior history can be used to inform the AI about the driver, allowing it to make educated guesses about their preferences. Using this technology as a jumping off point, the vehicle is able to create a completely new type of user experience for drivers while maintaining a fun and safe driving driving environment.

The second major point of this technology is “Protect.” By combining technology that understands human behavior and driving safety technology, the vehicle is able to guide its users toward a safer, calmer driving experience. Depending on the driver’s emotions, how tired he or she may be, or his or her level of awareness, the vehicle is able to exert influence on and stimulate the driver’s senses so as to lead them toward safer driving. Furthermore, by monitoring both the driver and the area around the vehicle as well as the driver’s reliance on the autonomous driving functionality, if the driver happens to enter a state that the vehicle deems dangerous, it can automatically switch to autonomous driving mode, steering the car back to safety. In addition, by monitoring driver stress, the vehicle can suggest switching to autonomous driving mode should the driver seem to be in a precarious position, both “looking out for and helping the driver,” serving as a realization of Toyota’s “Mobility Teammate Concept.”

The third characteristic of this technology is that of “Inspire” or bringing about a “New Fun To Drive” experience. By combining technology that understands humans with agent tech, the car is able to predict the feelings of the driver, make suggestions based on those predictions, and provide a whole new driving experience. Depending on the driver’s emotions and level of vigilance, the car communicates with the driver, such as talking about things the driver likes or mentioning news that may appeal to the driver, providing an until now unheard of interactive dialogue. Furthermore, through compilation of driver emotional data into an “Emotional Map,” big data on driver emotions and preferences can be produced and utilized by the vehicle in numerous fashions, such as by providing slightly out of the way routes that the driver might enjoy or, by sharing data collected from other drivers, providing an all new, safe driving experience.

[Translated by Bryce Clarke]