TOKYO – Toyota will pull the wraps off an updated, closer-to-production version of its futuristic Concept-i pod car at the Tokyo Motor Show, previewing a self-driving electric vehicle equipped with a digital assistant designed to deliver a "personalized mobility experience."
Called the LQ, the concept car builds on the Concept-i, first exhibited at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas. Toyota will have a working version of the LQ ready for public test drives from June to September next year, the company said in a release Friday.
Toyota had previously said that a running version of the Concept-i would be an escort vehicle for some events during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which Toyota is helping to sponsor.
The LQ is a four-seat electric vehicle with a cruising range of 186 miles.
The car envisions a self-driving future in which onboard digital assistants help with everything from navigation to safety and comfort. Toyota calls the LQ digital assistant Yui.
Yui will interact with the driver through voice commands, Toyota said.
It will monitor the driver and increase alertness or alleviate stress by automatically modulating in-vehicle illumination, air conditions, fragrances and other human-machine interfaces.
Seats developed with Toyota Group supplier Toyota Boshoku Corp. will recognize when a driver is tired and inflate an air bladder in the seat back to support an upright posture, while directing cool air from the ventilation system in the seat, Toyota said.
But when the car is driving itself and the driver can kick back a bit, the air bladders rhythmically inflate and contract to encourage deep, relaxing breathing.
Toyota calls the seating a world's first.
The LQ features Level 4 autonomous driving technology, meaning that it can drive itself without requiring the driver to take control. It will also feature an automated valet parking function, jointly developed with Panasonic. That technology enables the car to hunt for its own parking space.
Among other goodies: The LQ will get an augmented reality head-up display and a newly developed catalyst coating for the radiator fan that helps decompose harmful ozone emissions as the vehicle moves. It also gets Toyota's first deployment of a meter display using organic light emitting diodes and a 3D-printed center console for a minimalist, futuristic interior.
Press days for the Tokyo show are Oct. 23-24.