Sparesbox Blog

You Love Your Car, But Does Your Car Love You?

By Mitch Babbs

Wed Oct 16 2019

Here at Sparesbox we live by the ethos that you should Love Your Car. Make it from the best parts, fill it with the best additives, and just generally treat it right. If you’re feeling like it’s been a bit of a one-sided love affair between you and your pride and joy, maybe it’s time to consider a car that’s designed to love you back.

Introducing the Toyota LQ concept car. While it hasn’t gotten a full unveiling yet (expect more details to come at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show) there are a number of features we know at this stage, as well as a bevy of images that highlight the vehicle’s futuristic (if not necessarily crowd-pleasing) design.

The LQ’s most distinct feature is the on-board AI system Toyota has named ‘Yui’. Yui’s purpose, outside of managing the high-tech system of electricals wired throughout is to interpret, understand, and behave in response to the driver’s mood and current situation. How exactly it does this is not entirely clear (again, hold out for this year’s Tokyo Motor Show for more details), but if it’s anything like Kia’s attempt in the same space it may have the capacity to read facial expressions and biometric data to discern a driver’s (or passenger’s) mood.

What’s impressive about the LQ is what Yui does with that information. Fully integrated across the entire vehicle, Yui will modify everything from ambient lighting in the cabin to the position of your seat to the music being played through the speakers. 

Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic, causing your pulse to increase and face to contort in anger: Yui blasts some cold air through the vents and plays some Coldplay for you, (you know, that song you like that always seems to settle you down).

Or maybe you’re driving late at night with someone asleep in the passenger seat when Yui notices you’re becoming less alert: the lights in your footwell (but not the passenger’s) increase in brightness and your seat position lifts slightly so you’re no longer slouching.

Exactly how effective the LQ will be in managing a driver’s moods is unclear, but there are some unique features that should excite weekend technologists. One in particular is the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) that’s embedded into the headlights and allows the LQ to project shapes and directions onto the road ahead via the reflective precision of ‘as many as one million mirrors’ contained within.

Another major thing the LQ has going for it is its SAE classification as a Level 4 Self-Driving car. A Level 4 Self-Driving car is capable of wholly autonomous (as in, needs no supervision, you can take a nap if you like) when driving within specific geofenced areas. Outside of those areas the vehicle is still self-driving but must be monitored in case the driver needs to intervene (the ability to do this would normally qualify a vehicle for Level 3 classification). For reference, Tesla’s Autopilot system sits comfortably in Level 2.

The only thing left to mention is the aesthetics, which won’t suit everyone’s style. Fear not, as the Toyota LQ will be displayed alongside the likes of the Toyota Mirai, a rear wheel driven fuel-cell limo that looks to be Toyota’s answer to both the Lexus saloons in style and the Prius in fuel efficiency. This all comes as part of a push to move Toyota into the new age of vehicle technology, something they’ve been working on for some time now. 

What remains to be seen is whether the LQ will be the step forward that Toyota hopes it to be, or if it will be just another concept car full of great ideas that doesn’t see success in the consumer market. Only time and the fallout from this year’s Tokyo Motor Show will tell.