I don’t know what it is with the requirement that our future cars need to foster some deep human-car emotional bond, but Toyota is proposing a pretty similar thing with its LQ concept. This little car will include its very own artificial intelligence assistant named Yui, and Yui will be able to read your emotions in order to give you the very best mobility experience it can.
If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s because Toyota already debuted a similar concept back in 2017 called the Concept-I. The LQ is pretty similar but is being called the “next generation” of the Concept-I by Toyota, which was a semi-autonomous vehicle with a little AI pal named Yui who could do cool stuff like chat with you and scan your biometrics to improve your driving experience.
The LQ basically just takes it to the next level.
It’ll include an SAE Level 4 equivalent autonomous driving system, which basically means that the car can pretty well drive itself with only the occasional bit of human input. You can think of it as your new robot pal Yui serving as your valet.
The Yui part is the most interesting here, though. Here’s how Toyota describes it in the press release:
LQ features an on-board artificial intelligence agent named “Yui” that provides a personalized mobility experience based on the driver’s emotional state and alertness. In order to ensure safety and comfort, the AI can engage with the driver using interactive voice communications, in-seat functions designed to increase alertness or reduce stress, in-vehicle illumination, air conditioning, fragrances and other human-machine interactions (HMI). Yui can also select and play music based on the driving environment and provide real-time information on topics of interest to the driver.
Your lil car-embedded robot valet can essentially understand all of your biometric cues to provide the best possible driving experience (because, remember, with Level 4 autonomy, the driver still needs to be alert and active in order to respond to any unforeseen cues).
I’m not sure how I feel about it, honestly—mostly because I am positively dictatorial when it comes to my driving music selection. How will Yui know when to keep me awake with the death metal playlist as opposed to the glam rock playlist or the Mac Demarco associated artists playlist? Do I give off a slightly different stink when I need to listen to Blondie? Does my heart rate change drastically enough to change my music when I suddenly decide it’s time to move on from FIDLAR and into Bass Drum of Death?
I’m skeptical. I don’t even trust my body to tell me usual things, like when I’m hungry as opposed to just generally bored, and I don’t know if I’m ready to trust Yui to divine when I need a cool lavender-scented breeze.
Despite that, it sounds like a really neat concept. Light strips are embedded in the floor and roof, which change color depending on which passenger Yui is chatting with. The Digital Micromirror Device embedded in the headlights can activate millions of tiny mirrors to better illuminate strange, complex objects on the road ahead. A catalyst coating on the car decomposes ozone into oxygen, thus reducing smog. And the interior looks like it belongs to a video game setup.
It’s a clever concept, one that will be making its official debut on October 23 at the Tokyo Motor Show.