At the Consumer Electronics Show currently underway in Las Vegas, Nev., several carmakers are showing off their futuristic visions for personal transportation. BMW's i Inside Future concept, for example, has a HoloActive Touch display that floats the control panel above the center console. And Hyundai's Mobility Vision literally connects a car to the home via a portal in the wall. Driver's dock to the house and exit into the living room.
But Toyota wants to make driving more personal. More emotional. The Concept-I, which is strictly a concept car and not slated for production yet, evolves the idea of "fun to drive" to accommodate advances in technology, including autonomous driving. Conceived of at Toyota's CALTY design studio in Newport Beach, Calif., the car — which gives the owner a choice of automated or manual mode — embodies a philosophy that Toyota calls "kinetic warmth."
In a press release, Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota, described it by saying, "At Toyota, we recognize that the important question isn't whether future vehicles will be equipped with automated or connected technologies. It is the experience of the people who engage with those vehicles." That engagement will primarily happen via an A.I. agent nicknamed Yui. Yui interacts with its owner from both the outside and the inside. As a person approaches the car, Yui displays the word "Hello" on the vehicle's exterior. It can even give a charming wink with one of its headlights.
"So imagine when you first get a Concept-I. It's like meeting somebody for the first time, and you share some information," CALTY chief designer Ian Cartabiano told Engadget.