Automotive Blog

Tokyo Motor Show 2017: Toyota to unveil new Concept-i series featuring advanced AI, Hino announces line-up




Toyota will unveil its new Concept-i series at the expo equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capable of recognising the emotional state of its driver.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Significance: Toyota has previewed its new Concept-i series with advanced AI technology due to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show this month. All vehicles are powered by an electric powertrain.
  • Implications: The common thread in all the Concept-i series' models is the AI system that taps deep learning to measure driver's habits and behaviour. By monitoring the driver's eye movements, facial expression, and gestures, for example, the cars aims to predict if the driver is becoming tired, sleepy, or irritated.
  • Outlook: Toyota plans to begin road-testing some of the Concept-i autonomous driving and AI technologies by 2020 in Japan. Toyota's new Concept-i series points towards the automaker's future vision of a mobility society through which AI technology "enables cars to understand the driver, allowing people and cars to become partners". The new futuristic series are positioned as intelligent vehicles that are emotionally aware rather than as only utilitarian vehicles.

Toyota has previewed new Concept-i series models due to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show this month, according to a company press release. The first concept, the Concept-i, was originally unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January 2017. The Concept-i is a four-wheel model that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to understand human emotion. According to Toyota, the four-seat Concept-i car combines technology that understands people with automated driving and agent technology and provides drivers with safety. The car is powered by an electric powertrain that is capable of delivering a range of 300 km. The vehicle is 4,510 mm long, 1,830 mm wide, and 1,475 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,700 mm.

The second concept on display will be an all-new city mobility vehicle, dubbed as the Concept-i Ride. It is a two-seat pod car, ideal for crowded city streets and is more suitable for the elderly or people with a disability. The concept's gull-wing doors open wide to enable easy loading and unloading of wheelchairs. The Concept-i Ride is driven by a joystick, instead of pedals, and is powered by battery, capable of delivering a range of between 100 to 150km. The vehicle is 2,500 mm long, 1,300 mm wide, and 1,500 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 1,800 mm.

Separately, Hino has announced its exhibition outline and plans to display five models, according to a company press release. Vehicles to be displayed at the expo include the Hino 700 Series heavy-duty truck, the Hino 500 Series medium-sized truck, the Hino 300 Series Hybrid light-duty truck, the Hino Poncho light-duty electric bus, and the Hino 500 Series that competed in Dakar Rally 2014 as a reference exhibit. In addition to this, Hino will display the A09C and A05C downsized engines for heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles respectively. The engines are equipped with the all-new dimple liners, a mechanism to reduce resistance by forming dimples (small concavities) in the piston slide section of the cylinder liner, as well as a two-stage turbocharger, and ultra-high pressure common rail.

Outlook and implications

Toyota plans to begin road-testing some of the Concept-i autonomous driving and AI technologies by 2020 in Japan. Toyota's new Concept-i series points towards the automaker's future vision of a mobility society through which AI technology "enables cars to understand the driver, allowing people and cars to become partners". The new futuristic series is positioned as intelligent vehicles that are emotionally aware rather than as only utilitarian vehicles. The common thread in all the Concept-i series models is the AI system that taps deep learning to measure the driver's habits and behavior. By monitoring the driver's eye movements, facial expression, and gestures, for example, the cars aims to predict if the driver is becoming tired, sleepy, or irritated. Overall, the system will make predictions and suggestions, and will protect the occupants.

At the CES earlier this year, Toyota first introduced the Concept-i and advanced AI system called "Yui". During the introduction, Toyota Motor Sales senior vice-president – automotive operations Bob Carter said that the Yui was built to learn from people and grow from them, and to build a "relationship that is meaningful and emotional". Toyota went so far as to give the Yui credit for knowing if people are happy or sad, based on information it can gather through various biometric scanners. The Yui system is expected to grow with and learn from the driver. It was also developed to help determine when a human should take control through using sophisticated biometric systems to monitor the driver's attention and emotions.

Toyota has been accelerating its research and development (R&D) initiatives and recently invested an additional JPY10.5 billion (USD94.7 million) in Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based artificial intelligence (AI) development venture. The latest decision to take a stake in the venture comes as Toyota seeks to further enhance the co-operation that has, until now, focused on object-recognition technology and analysis technology of vehicle information. One of the key focus areas of Preferred Networks consists of machine-learning technology, including "deep-learning", a branch of AI that enables machines to learn on their own with slight human supervision. The move will help Toyota to accelerate its R&D of self-driving technology, and is the latest in a series of efforts by the automaker in this direction. In 2015, Toyota invested USD1 billion to create an AI R&D company called Toyota Research Institute. Other key investments include its plans to collaborate with Nvidia in developing self-driving cars. Toyota is also working with other suppliers for the various elements it needs for a self-driving car solution.

Another Japanese automaker Honda will also showcase concept models with similar technologies. The pure-electric concept car NeuV (New Electric Urban Vehicle) features an "emotion engine" called HANA (Honda Automated Network Assistant), which learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments. It can apply what it has learnt from the driver's past decisions to make new choices and recommendations. Honda has also displayed the NeuV concept previously at the CES in January 2017.

About this article

The above article is from AutoIntelligence Daily by IHS Markit. AutoIntelligence Daily provides same-day analysis of automotive news, events and trends.​​​​​​ Get a free trial.