Toyota Concept Car Wants to Bond with You

Toyota LQ concept builds an emotional bond with the driver

Toyota today announced the LQ, an innovative concept vehicle that leverages advanced technology to build an emotional bond between car and driver.

LQ is equipped with automated driving capabilities and Yui, a powerful artificial intelligence-powered interactive agent designed to learn from the driver and deliver a personalised mobility experience.

The futuristic concept adopts technology designed to provide safety, peace of mind, and a comfortable mobility experience, including an augmented reality head-up display and driver's seat with world-first alertness and relaxation functions.

Development leader Daisuke Ido said LQ is the next generation of the Toyota Concept-i that was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show.

"In the past, our love for cars was built on their ability to take us to distant places and enable our adventures," Mr Ido said.

"Advanced technology gives us the power to match customer lifestyles with new opportunities for excitement and engagement," he said.

"With the LQ, we are proud to propose a vehicle that can deliver a personalised experience, meet each driver's unique mobility needs, and build an even stronger bond between car and driver."

LQ, which will feature in the "Future Expo" display at this month's Tokyo Motor Show, is the next generation of Toyota's "Concept-i" that was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show.

As a mobility company, Toyota believes that when people are free to move, anything is possible. This vision is built on an understanding that mobility goes beyond physical transportation to include the human need to be moved and engaged emotionally.

LQ follows this philosophy under a core development theme of "Learn, Grow, Love."

The Yui interactive agent and LQ's automated driving technology were developed in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which applies artificial intelligence to help Toyota produce cars in the future that are safer, more accessible and more environmentally friendly.

The technologies combine to create a unique mobility experience that builds the relationship between vehicle and driver by learning from and responding to individual preferences and needs.

The car's name expresses Toyota's hope that this approach will "cue" the development of future vehicles that enhance the relationship between car and driver.

LQ will be take part in a public test-drive event - Toyota Yui Project Tours 2020 - scheduled to run from June to September 2020.

More details will be announced on a dedicated website:

2.Main LQ Features

1. Yui Mobility Expert and AI Agent

LQ features an artificial intelligence (AI) agent named Yui that provides a personalised mobility experience based on the driver's emotional state and alertness. To ensure safety and comfort, the AI can engage with the driver using interactive voice communications, in-seat functions designed to increase alertness or reduce stress, in-vehicle illumination, air-conditioning, fragrances and other human-machine interactions (HMI). Yui can select and play music based on the driving environment and provide real-time information on topics that interest the driver.

In addition to research conducted at TRI, Toyota received support from the following companies in the development and implementation of Yui:

  • JTB Corporation: Provided facility information and driving routes suitable to meet customer preferences
  • AWA Co., Ltd.: Offered streaming music suitable for vehicle driving routes and customer preferences
  • NTT DoCoMo, Inc.: Provided a high-speed and stable communication environment by installing a 5G base station at the test drive base.

Toyota will continue to work on expanding Yui's implementation through integration with other products such as smartphones.


2. Technology designed to provide safety, peace of mind, and a comfortable mobility experience

i. Automated Driving: The LQ is equipped with an SAE 1 Level 4 equivalent automated driving function.

ii. Automated Valet Parking System (Jointly developed with Panasonic Corporation)
The system eliminates the need to search for parking spaces by automatically driving between a drop-off spot and an assigned parking space in a nearby parking lot, improving accessibility for those with mobility limitations including seniors, people with physical disabilities, pregnant women, customers with infants, and anyone who has difficulty parking. The system also maximises space in the parking lot by reducing clearance between adjacent vehicles to 20 centimetres.

Automated parking uses an on-vehicle system that identifies the current position of the vehicle using multiple cameras, sonar and radar, 2D road mapping, cameras installed in the parking lot and a control centre. Vehicle sensors and parking-lot cameras also monitor for other vehicles and pedestrians on the automated driving route, automatically stopping the vehicle when another vehicle or a pedestrian is detected.

iii. AR-HUD (Jointly developed with Panasonic Corporation)
LQ's augmented reality head-up display (AR-HUD) expands the information display area, supporting safe driving by reducing driver eye movement.

Driving information such as lane warnings, road signs, and route guidance can be displayed in a three-dimensional and easy-to-understand manner over the scenery seen through the windscreen. The system helps keep the driver's eyes on the road thanks to a large screen display (equivalent to 230 inches) that has a depth of 7-41 metres ahead of the vehicle.

iv. Seat with alertness and relaxation functions (world-first) (Jointly developed with Toyota Boshoku Corporation)
LQ's advanced seating system consists of multiple inflatable air bladders embedded into the seat with an in-seat air-conditioning system to help keep the driver awake or relaxed depending on the driving situation.

When the system recognises that the driver is tired, it inflates the air bladder in the seat back to support an upright sitting posture and directs cool air from the ventilation system located in the seat.

When conditions allow the driver to relax, such as in automated driving mode, the air bladder in the seat back gradually inflates and contracts to encourage abdominal breathing.


3. Other advanced equipment and technology

i. New HMI functions
LQ uses the roof and floor mat areas as an intuitive communications platform to share information between the vehicle and passengers. Embedded lighting displays different colours to indicate automated or manual driving mode and lights up different footwells to indicate which passenger Yui is addressing.

LQ can also communicate information such as road-surface conditions to people inside and outside of the vehicle using the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) installed in its headlights. The system can activate one million tiny embedded mirrors to project complex figures on the road ahead.

ii. Organic LED meter display (Toyota's first)
A first for Toyota, LQ's dashboard and meters are displayed using organic LEDs. The advanced instrument-panel design wraps around the driver while ensuring high visibility.

iii. Air purification coating (Jointly developed with Aisin Chemical Co., Ltd and Cataler Corporation)
LQ features a newly developed catalyst coating that decomposes ozone into oxygen on the radiator fan, allowing ozone near the ground surface, a cause of photochemical smog, to be decomposed as the vehicle moves. Toyota has measured the effect of the coating as purifying about 60 per cent of ozone contained in 1,000 litres of air over the course of an hour's drive.

Toyota expects this technology to help clean harmful emissions like ozone from the air during drives and is considering the coating for use in commercial vehicles in the future.


4. Design

The LQ cabin is designed with a futuristic, forward-projecting silhouette that puts Yui at the centre of the instrument panel, with lines that flow from the inside of the vehicle across its exterior.

The minimalist interior is smooth and sleek, with key elements like air-conditioner vents hidden behind invisible registers. The 3D-printed centre console is reinforced using the design technique of topology optimisation, which provides optimal strength and supports an advanced vehicle interior with fewer support structures visible to the driver. Doors feature glass that seamlessly connects with the interior of the vehicle, creating an integrated, elegant design.

1 SAE Level references can be found here.

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