Toyota’s Concept-i Gets To Know Its Driver
A new concept vehicle was revealed by Toyota called the Concept-i at CES. The car was built with the CALTY design research group. We spoke to CALTY Project Design Manager William Chergosky about the process of building the Concept-i. He said it was about discovering a new way to bring the thrill people feel about driving now to a potential future in which the experience is much more exciting.
Chergosky stated, “We’ve been working on this for approximately two years, and we’re trying to create a futuristic vision for the 2030 automobile that’s really fun to drive. As everyone’s moving towards an autonomous future, what’s Toyota’s vision of that? We had a real fundamental belief in this idea of ‘waku-doki’ getting your heart racing. Is that something that dies with this future? I don’t think it is.”
According to Chergosky, a large part of accomplishing that comes down to user experience design. That is why the Concept-i pays close attention to how it signals a switch from manual to autonomous mode and how it greets the user. Setting the mood for either method of control, there are LED lights throughout the interior and across the body that cue the driver about their experience.
Chergosky said, “Our fundamental idea behind it was trying to humanize or warm up the technology, and make it more approachable. The idea of trying to humanize it is to try to narrow that gap between you and the technology.
They took the concept of “kinetic warmth” as a core protocol in designing the Concept-i, which meant building something that came to life and was technically able. That is why Toyota placed an AI at the center of the in-car experience, nicknaming it ‘Yui.’ This virtual companion is created to get to know you as a person, and as a driver. Yui was also designed to adapt its behavior in order to best provide that driving excitement that Toyota targets
Communicating with other vehicles and pedestrians are the key areas of focus in this concept. Through Concept-i’s exterior lighting system, Yui can inform others whether it’s in manual or autonomous drive mode and notify drivers behind about upcoming road hazards or turns. It even greets passengers who are approaching the car.