It has a perfect circular pod-shape, but this is not a Prius. Toyota’s concept is that I say hello to a concept car in the forefront of the era General Motors announced the 2017 International CES in its press conference. Gullwing door and shameless style, it is what we say, a bit off the security basic style can be associated with the brand.
Like all concept cars, this is not the intention to hit the road as it is, but to show the vision of the future of the carmaker. Like the director of the Toyota Research Institute, Gilplat explained in a demonstration that the vision includes two things: making the car safer and changing the way people interact with their vehicles.
Yui wants to get to know you, to make you feel all warm and fuzzy when you travel and tailor everything about the car to your mood and personality. “It has the potential to become more than a helpful friend,” Pratt said. “[It could be] the kind of friend who looks out for you.”
Indeed, Yui is an experiment in figuring out one of the tricker problem of autonomous cars—making sure human drivers are attentive and aware of the situation should they need to take control from the computer. Yui might try to talk to you to keep your attention up, the way truckers talk over two-way radio to stay sharp.
As Pratt points out, people have an awfully high tolerance for our own mistakes—we barely bat an eye at the 35,000 people who die every year in car accidents. But “historically, humans have shown nearly zero tolerance” for deaths caused by flaws in a machine. So true self-driving cars—and their interactions with us—have a long way to go.
Toyota hopes the Concept-i, as it accrues miles on the road and makes those lessons part of its AI, will guide that development. Your next Toyota may not have blinking headlights like those on this concept car, but it just might try to become your best friend.