At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the automakers unveil their latest futurist technology and concepts where an audience is more likely to be perceptive to it than the old haunts known as the Auto Shows.
To wit, the Toyota i-Concept shows us what the car of the future might look like in a world of autonomous driving. The i-Concept is designed to be a warm and inviting soul for its driver, a car with artificial intelligence that will communicate with you while anticipating your needs.
To reach you, the i-Concept has an assistant known as Yui, who greets you when you come to the car and is constantly in contact along your rides. Using lighting and sound, the agent becomes your best friend along for the ride.
Yui can measure your emotion, memorize your driving patterns and routines and uses that information to provide you options and assistance along the way from suggestions, to directions, or even offering to take the wheel and let you rest.
Thus you can choose to drive the i-Concept yourself or let it do the work. When in either mode it displays its status of automated or manual driving to the drivers around you. Even in manual mode it can help you navigate dangerous driving conditions like inclement weather.
Design is of course exceptionally futuristic with lots of bright white, you know like an iPhone. That’s how you attract the young hipsters right? All kidding aside, the concept does do a good job of pushing the styling envelope well.
Exterior features include translucent panels that can display information to you as you walk up or driving status as previously mentioned. The rear tail panel itself is a display to let other drivers know what you’re doing as well.
Neat are the design elements of body color fragments screened across the back glass, a theme that flows to the interior with Kitschy gold flourishes across the dash panel and across the seats. It’s light and bright, and definitely not mundane.
The four seat cabin is lined with LED lighting on the floor as well as its side panels. An airy and open atmosphere is provided with an all-glass roof tied together with an X brace in the center. The concept like most has sexy scissor doors too, something only high-end super-car makers have dared try in production.
The cockpit itself is flanked by a light screen ahead of the driver to display immediate information combined with a head up display. Yui bounces in the circle to the left to keep you from feeling alone. Note that the center console is devoid of screens and information – the goal of which to keep your eyes on the road.
Powering the i-Concept is….does it really matter? These aren’t really things all that important to the CES crowd. In all seriousness however, you would expect this to be an all-electric vehicle that can be charged at night just like your tablet.
You might be fascinated by this concept or you might be laughing at it. Either way, know that this is the direction car makers are going. Autonomy is coming.