Toyota Concept-i: the car that wants to be your friend

Published: 05 January 2017

► Show car with on-board AI assistant
► Revealed at CES 2017 tech show
► Design study for the year 2030

Plenty of concept show car boxes ticked here: the Toyota Concept-i is a partially autonomous, scissor-doored pod with an emphasis on butler-like Artificial Intelligence features.

Nominally a study for the year 2030, it was created at Toyota’s CALTY design studio in California and then revealed at the 2017 CES technology show in Las Vegas.

Artificial Intelligence?

Toyota says the Concept-i’s main remit is to explore potential ways in which people can interact with vehicles.

Many of the Concept-i’s functions are based around an AI ‘agent’ or assistant system Toyota calls ‘Yui’, manifested as a series of animated 2D graphic circles appearing on the dashboard and jumping to various other interfaces inside the cabin (on the door panels, for example), to interact with driver and passengers.

Toyota says the Yui system is designed to ‘build a relationship with the driver’, to ‘measure emotion’, and to ‘anticipate people’s needs.’

The Concept-i’s designers envisage it switching between manual and autonomous driving modes, with the AI system monitoring the driver’s attention and road conditions, to step in and increase automated driving support if it detects the driver is getting sleepy, or impending hazards ahead.

That’s quite some exterior

Proper concept car stuff: a monoform pod with scissor doors, wheel covers and sci-fi graphics. The project was led by designer Ian Cartabiano, whose CV includes the Lexus LF-LC concept.

The Yui graphics appear on the exterior too, on the door panels to welcome driver and passengers as they approach, at the rear to display messages about upcoming turns and obstacles, and at the front to show whether the car is in automated or manual mode.

Check out the video below to see the Yui animations in action.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer