Toyota Concept-i looks weird, will be fun to drive, and comes with a Disneyfied AI

Toyota’s new concept car has a mind of its own. Just unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the gloss white, four seat, bluntly ovoid, fractally embellished, occasionally autonomous pod, known as the Concept-i, comes equipped with an artificially intelligent user experience interface known as Yui that will apparently get to know you, your emotions, and your preferences, and react accordingly.

«Basically, this is our futuristic vision of what driving a Toyota means in the year 2030,» says Ian Cartabiano, the veteran studio chief for the brand’s CALTY advanced design atelier in southern California. «The challenging aspect of it was, how do we make this futuristic car convey something that’s still fun to drive, but also have a new way to interact between driver and car, and basically, reignite a love for cars.» Their solution? «A proposal for the future that incorporates technology with a soul. We don’t want to make a cold, technical, dry, soulless machine.»

This is intriguing, especially coming from Toyota, a brand that has basically staked its entire reputation on making cold, technical, dry, soulless machines. Then again, anything’s possible. The future is ephemeral and unpredictable, and our prognostications about it are often far more interesting, and far less insidious, than the ensuing reality. We’ve always thought that the best cars have a kind of mechanized spirit, so we’re intrigued by this incipient human/machine meld. If also terrified of it.

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