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Toyota's new i concepts have artificial intelligence

The i-Ride and i-Walk read your mind and sense your emotions. Scared yet?

Toyota first unveiled the Concept-i at CES in January. It was a four-seater fully-electric autonomous machine that learned all about the driver through social media activity, GPS locations and even by listening to conversations in the car. As if the world wasn’t Big Brother enough already.

We tested it out in Las Vegas and found it… a bit odd. It even learns to read your emotions and expressions, adapting the lighting and comfort of the cabin (starting the massage seats when you’re feeling tense, for example), and can judge when to take over the controls if you’re feeling tired. It all comes under Toyota’s new ‘Learn, Protect, Inspire’ ethos.

Toyota’s latest announcement, in time for the Tokyo motor show, adds two further products to the Concept-i range. First is the Concept-i Ride, designed for wheelchair and disabled access users. With easy-access gullwing doors and sliding seats for smooth transfer from wheelchair to driver’s seat, the i-Ride also gets joysticks instead of a steering wheel or pedals, for those with restricted limb access, and a large central display. It’s hoped that the mobility pod will be used in car sharing schemes, giving more people the chance to experience and enjoy the freedom of driving. 

There’s also the Concept-i Walk – a ride-on Segway-esque machine that’s designed to be used on pavements and pedestrian areas. Sporting a footprint smaller than a walking adult, the WALK senses moods through the handles and predicts danger to keep the rider safe and relaxed during the morning walk – sorry, roll. It also claims to be suited for anyone “with no restriction of age, gender or even clothing”, so no awkward straddling for you kilt wearers. 

Both are previewed here, alongside the larger Concept-i. But do we really want our cars to be reading our minds? Is this the only way autonomy is going to be a proper success? Let us know what you think. 

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