Both the Concept-i and Concept-i Ride are designed to preview how artificial intelligence (AI) could make life easier for owners in the future, suggesting the car and driver could eventually become “partners”, while the Concept-i Walk is something entirely different.
The Concept-i is the larger of the two cars, with room for four passengers in a dazzling white cabin.
That’s where the similarities with current Toyotas end, though, because the AI smarts in the Concept-i are unlike anything on the road at the moment. Along with driver body language, the system is designed to learn about preferences by scanning social media, logging GPS data and listening in on conversations in the car.
We presume the US State Department is already on the phone to Toyota begging for the technology at the moment.
Using this information, the car will automatically adapt its operation to match what the driver needs. Autonomous systems can pick up the slack when the driver gets tired, or wake drowsy pilots by “stimulating the five senses”.
Toyota also suggests the huge swathe of data it collects could be used to spark up conversation with the driver or, if the driver has a bit of spare time, choose a slower, more scenic route home. With a range of around 300 kilometres from the electric powertrain, here's hoping it isn't too scenic.
Inside, passengers interact with their ‘smart’ assistant through a 3D head-up display. Gloss white is the dominant colour, although there are also some copper highlights scattered throughout to match the exterior.
The shape of the car is similar to that of the current Prius, albeit with a more rounded nose and some crazy concept details to make it stand out on the floor in Tokyo. Don’t be surprised to see something similar running around in public in the near future – Toyota wants to have the car on the road by “around 2020”.
The Concept-i Ride (above) takes the same focus on computer smarts and wraps them up in a spacious, practical interior for people with disabilities.
Along with looking cool, the gullwing doors couple with a sliding seat to make it easier for wheelchair users to get in and out of the vehicle, while there's space to store the wheelchair behind the seats. The wide-opening doors also make unloading mobility scooters a breeze, especially when compared to conventional doors.
Rather than relying on conventional pedals, a gearstick and a steering wheel, the car is controlled with a joystick. It will also automatically park itself, removing one of the biggest stresses of driving for elderly (or nervous) car owners. The AI assistant behind the regular Concept-i is housed in a large dashboard display here, and offers suggestions for wheelchair-friendly parking spots.
Measuring just 2,500mm long and 1,300mm wide, the two-seat Ride is designed to fit comfortably in even the skinniest parking spaces without too much stress. Its electric powertrain is good for a range between 100km and 150km, so it's best saved for short trips to the shops.
The final concept on show in Tokyo isn't technically a car, but that doesn't mean it isn't interesting. Dubbed the 'Walk' (above), it continues Toyota's long history of creating crazy Segway-style vehicles to help people get around without actually exercising their legs.
With a low floor and tight turning circle, it's designed to be easily mounted and ridden in tight spaces, the likes of which are common in Japanese cities. When the speed rises, the scooter automatically lengthens its wheelbase for a stabler ride – we assume it's the mobility scooter equivalent of rear-wheel steering.
Maximum range is between 10-20 kilometres.
Check out the gallery for more photos of Toyota's trio of funky concepts.