Design Concept of the Day: Toyota FV2

November 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

toyotafv2Drivers will develop relationships with their vehicle much as riders do with horses, Toyota believes – or at least, they will when using the technologies developed in its Heart project, a communications/artificial intelligence programme which has included the development of the Kirobo and Mirata humanoid robots. Key to this is the use of sensors monitoring expressions, gestures and even recollections of past events  – for “emotional communication” – and establishing “a rapport between humans and machines that can make life more enjoyable and rewarding”.

Showcase for this is the FV2 concept, destined for the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. In place of a steering wheel, it is steered by the driver shifting his/her body to indicate direction; and it is also digitally connected to other cars and an intelligent transport infrastructure to give safety information, such as the presence of vehicles in blind spots or at junctions. It’s all about “stronger physical and emotional connections with the driver”, apparently, and voice and image recognition determines the driver’s mood; accumulated driving history suggests destinations; driving skills information is presented to assist the driver (“calm down”, perhaps). There’s a head-up augmented reality display on the windscreen, and projections allow the colour of the external display to be changed. Oh, and there’s an app for all of that – Toyota’s offering a taste of the FV2 driving experience, which can be downloaded (free) from the Apple AppStore and Google Play. But you can’t feed the FV2 carrots or stroke its mane…

  • Other Toyota concepts of note at Tokyo include the near-production FCV Concept (fuel cell, due for launch “around 2015”). This is said to have a range between refuelling of about 300 miles/500km, and a refuelling time of around three minutes, and it can carry four (the fuel cell stack and pair of fuel tanks are packaged under-body). Power output is “at least 100kW”, with a smaller motor, increased voltage and more compact fuel cell stack than in the earlier FCHV prototypes – and if stationary, a fully-fuelled vehicle “can provide enough electricity to power an average Japanese family home for a week”.
  • There’ll be a hybrid version of the Lexus RC four-seat luxury coupe:  RC 300h, with a 2.5-litre engine. Launch at Tokyo.
  • And the (Honda) Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD – a sports saloon; more performance- than economy-oriented –  will debut at the LA Show. Press release posted here.
  • Caterham (Cars) is expanding into the two-wheeled sector, with products including an e-bike (for 2014). More here.
  • Some more technical detail on the Volvo S80 EV prototype with structural elements holding charge: the body panels which act as energy storage incorporate carbonfibre and polymer resin, supercapacitors and nano-batteries. More info from the LowCVP, and from Volvo.
  • Renault-Nissan are to expand their platform-sharing deal with Mitsubishi, reports EV Fleet World; there’ll be a ‘kei car’ A-sector city EV based on the jointly-developed 660cc minivan already in production, as well as C- and D-sector Mitsubishis based on Korean-built Renault-Samsung models
  • The Nissan Leaf EV was the best-selling car – of all persuasions – in Norway last month. Nice sales chart here.
  • How do you get hydrogen? A team from Caltech have outlined a standardised protocol to assess oxygen-evolving electrocatalysts (splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, using solar energy). More at Green Car Congress.
  • The Compass 4D ITS connected-vehicles trial – a partnership with Audi, cars talking to infrastructure – has been launched in Verona. More at alphagalileo.
  • The US military is set to become one of the world’s largest EV fleet operators, according to Navigant Research: it predicts the forces will buy over 92,400 EVs between now and 2020. The EVs, as well as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, will work in tandem with the military’s development of secure, resilient renewable-fuelled micro-grid systems for energy storage. More at Business Green.

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