Autonomous concept car from Toyota offers living room atmosphere

Autonomous concept car from Toyota offers living room atmosphere

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The LQ study is the successor of Toyota’s “Concept-i”, which was presented at the CES 2017. The new edition is characterised by a forward-facing silhouette with large glass surfaces. Interior and exterior merge into one another – also thanks to the glass doors. The core, however, is the equipment with technologies that today’s Smart Home users are accustomed to. First there is the personal assistant Yui. It records the driver’s state of mind and reacts accordingly. In addition to interactive communication using artificial intelligence, the system can adapt vehicle lighting and air conditioning, release fragrances, offer other human-machine interactions, and adjust seat ventilation according to temperature. The assistant, developed in collaboration with the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), also compiles individual playlists and provides real-time information on topics of interest to the driver.

In addition to TRI, Toyota has also worked with other companies such as JTB Corporation to calculate individual routes, AWA Co. Ltd. for music and NTT DoCoMo for a stable 5G high-speed connection.

The LQ enables SAE level 4 automated driving, i.e. the car drives fully autonomously, but the driver must be able to intervene immediately at any time if a potentially dangerous situation is developing. An automated parking system has also been developed in collaboration with Panasonic: Once the occupants have been dropped off at the desired destination, the vehicle automatically searches for a parking space. This eliminates the need for tedious searching for a parking space. At the same time, parking space can be saved: The system only needs a distance of 20 centimeters to the front and rear for parking.

This functionality is made possible by a combination of cameras, sonar and radar, which help to determine the position of the vehicle with an accuracy of just a few centimeters, as well as high-precision position determination using high-precision road maps. In addition, the LQ uses V2X communication to wirelessly and automatically exchange data with cameras installed in the car park. The vehicle sensors and parking lot cameras also detect other road users and pedestrians on the automated route and automatically stop the vehicle if an obstacle is detected.

In the rather minimalist interior, the driver looks at an OLED instrument display that is being used for the first time at Toyota. The dashboard design surrounds the driver and guarantees good visibility at the same time. A head-up display developed jointly with Panasonic integrates augmented reality, providing all important information in a large display. Warnings, traffic signs and route guidance are displayed three-dimensionally and easily understandable in the landscape visible through the windscreen.

Interior: richly equipped with communication by light

The vehicle also offers new internal and external communication functions: the roof lining and foot area are transformed into an intuitive platform for the exchange of information between the vehicle and passengers. The integrated lighting shows the automated or manual driving mode in different colours. Individual spot lighting in the footwell also reveals which passenger is being addressed by Yui, the virtual assistant.

Using a digital micro-mirror device in the headlights, the Toyota LQ also projects various information onto the road, such as road conditions. The vehicle manufacturer’s engineers have developed a DLP array with one million embedded mirrors for this purpose, which also makes it possible to display complex figures.

At first, Toyota did not say anything about the drive (electric or combustion). However, we believe that it is rather likely that it will be a BEV.

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