A chameleon-like vehicle that changes color according to the driver’s mood, suggests destinations based on facial expressions, and warns of cars in blind spots forms part of Toyota Motor Corp.’s vision for the future.
The color-changing car is among the concept models that Toyota plans to display at the biennial Tokyo Motor Show this month. Still a work-in-progress, the vehicle codenamed Toyota FV2 presents applications that engineers envision may come out of the automaker’s research into humanoid robots and their use of facial and voice recognition.
“The car will appeal to future consumers of the digital generation, who have been used to smartphones or iPads from a young age,” said Takeo Moriai, a manager in Toyota’s product planning group. “Given that the technology is still at a very early stage of development, it’s challenging for us to figure out the extent to which the car can read emotions.”
Toyota joins automakers including General Motors Co. in introducing computer-assisted technology that helps reduce accidents and human error on the road, and may eventually allow cars to drive themselves. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc., operator of the largest Web search engine, has been testing driverless cars in the U.S.
Toyota will also display a concept version of a hydrogen-powered car at the Tokyo show as part of plans to introduce a fuel-cell vehicle around 2015.
Its exterior design is inspired by a catamaran and evokes flowing water, according to the company. The four-seater car will have a range of at least 500 kilometers (311 miles) and refuel in as quickly as three minutes, or about the time it takes to fill up a gasoline vehicle, Toyota said.
The automaker offered test drives of a small, prototype fuel-cell sedan in Japan last month to automotive media, as the company races to establish itself as the leader in the technology.
Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Daimler AG and GM are among the other automakers that have invested in developing fuel cells, spurred by the allure of hydrogen as an abundant, low- carbon fuel.
Toyota also plans to unveil a convertible hybrid version of the 86 sports car at the Tokyo show, and two concept minivans planned for sale in Japan early next year.
The Tokyo Motor Show is open to the public from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1.