Wednesday 23 May 2018

Toyota plans self-driving electric cars that will use AI to interact and even 'talk' with drivers

Toyota i-Ride
Toyota i-Ride

* Among the many models and trends to be shown at Tokyo Motor Show shortly will be a couple of interesting developments from Toyota as it rolls out plans for self-driving electric cars from 2020 or thereabouts.

Its little Concept-i Ride (pictured) will use artificial intelligence to interact and even 'talk' with drivers and passengers, according to the motoring giant.

In so doing the electric car's system will build up a bank of knowledge about its users' habits, preferences - and, believe it or not, emotions - by a process called 'deep learning'.

The Concept i-Ride and its junior partner Concept i-Walk are developments of the Concept-i series.

The latter was introduced with the original 4-seat Concept-i car at the CES show in January.

The i-Ride is a two-seat pod car for city streets with gull-wing doors that open wide for access. It is driven by a joystick, not pedals.

The i-Walk is a three-wheel Segway-like scooter - you stand on it. Both little vehicles are battery-powered, with the i-Ride having a claimed range of up to 168km and the Concept i-Walk up to 20km.

* You are more likely to have an accident when driving home at peak time during the week, new analysis has suggested.

Certainly the figures from the UK's Department of Transport (and number crunched by ClickMechanic) show that 5-6pm on weekdays represents the highest risk of an accident arising.

Second highest risk time is 4-5pm on weekdays with the 8-9am slot posing the third most severe danger.

Significantly, the afternoon school run comes fourth.

Of course the figures reflect UK driving and traffic patterns and may not necessarily translate 100pc to Irish stats. Yet I thought them interesting in that they focus on incident frequency rather than fatal or serious collisions.

I think they are well worth bearing in mind, especially as we drive into darker evenings.

* New investment and jobs follow the expansion of Blackwater Motors in Cork with the opening of the Volkswagen Van Centre on Model Farm Road. Blackwater already operates two Volkswagen commercial vehicles sites in Fermoy and Skibbereen. Best wishes.

* SEAT is holding off on naming its new SUV amid Spain's Catalonia crisis.

* MINI is looking at creating more body styles beyond its current five. Hope they don't go mad like the last time, when there were far too many.

* Take it as read: we really are on the threshold of the electric era. Electric car sales in China are poised to reach a record-breaking 700,000 this year. That's an 80pc increase on last year.

* Volkswagen is looking at ways to make sure its ID vehicles can be 'future-proofed' with over-the-air technology. In other words they want it so software changes can be easily downloaded to the cars even when they are well into their secondhand lifetime.

Indo Motoring

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