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Toyota Wants Its LQ Concept to Be Your Friend

Annie White
Photo credit: Toyota Motor Company

From Car and Driver

  • Toyota has launched a new concept to showcase its ideas for advanced technology and the future of Toyota's design.
  • The LQ is a next-generation version of the company's Concept-i car, first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2017.
  • Toyota says the LQ is designed to showcase automated driving technology and imagine ways that advanced technology can enhance the emotional bond between vehicle and driver.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you love cars. Maybe you've even given your car an affectionate pat on the hood after a nice weekend drive, a show of thanks to a machine that cannot appreciate it. But have you ever wished your car could love you back? If so (or even if not), Toyota is here to help.

Photo credit: Toyota

The company's new four-seat, four-door LQ has a Siri-like personal assistant, called Yui, that's designed to "build an emotional bond between car and driver." Toyota's pitch is that mobility isn't just about the human desire to move through physical space; it's also about the human desire to be moved emotionally. The company's new personal assistant will learn from and respond to each driver's needs, creating a man-machine bond that Toyota hopes will distract drivers from the fact that they are themselves just cogs in a machine.

Photo credit: Toyota

Toyota says the Yui AI software can recognize and react to a driver's emotional state and level of alertness and can make changes to the climate control, infotainment screens, in-car fragrances, and seat massage settings to increase alertness or reduce stress. It's not immediately clear how Yui will determine the driver's emotional state. In our experience with similar systems like the Mercedes-Benz CLA-class's "Energizing Coach," the car's attempts to increase alertness usually involve a brief blast of air conditioning, cheerful music, and bright ambient lighting.

Photo credit: Toyota

The LQ concept, which is a next-generation take on the company's 2017 Concept-i, also showcases what Toyota claims is Level 4 automated driving technology, an automated parking system in which the car can drop passengers off and go search for its own parking space, and a large head-up display designed to reduce the driver's eye movements by placing all relevant information directly in the driver's sightline.

Photo credit: Toyota

The LQ's headlights have what Toyota has dubbed a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) installed in them. The DMD system uses millions of tiny mirrors embedded in the lighting unit to project images and perhaps even messages on the road ahead.

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