Feeling the Road: The Toyota FV2

Will autonomous cars replace the freedom of the open road with the “predictability” of machines? Here’s an alternative from Toyota.

One can see why a car that drives itself is an attractive car: passengers are free to text, read, eat, or do anything they please while headed to their destination and cars can be scheduled to be at a particular place at a particular time. Accidents can be avoided, as long as nothing goes wrong with the system. This technology is instrumental for flying cars, which pose a threat to buildings and the people in them. These are some of the reasons that Google may be driving you to work in the future. Sound comforting? They are heavily involved in the development of autonomous cars. No wonder they are obsessed with mapping the world.

Google car display © jurvetson with CCLicense
Google car display
© jurvetson with CCLicense

What about the fun of the open road and the excitement of going somewhere unplanned? The ability to wander is part of the lure of the automobile. We already bemoan the cultivation of short attention spans and the inability to interface without a screen. If the loss of control and awareness bothers you, you might be interested in the technology behind the Toyota FV2, shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show last month.

© Morio with CCLicense
© Morio with CCLicense

Toyota has this to say about their new vehicle:

The Toyota FV2 is a concept car that maintains the “Fun to Drive” philosophy even in a world where automated driving technology has proliferated. As a vehicle that can be “understood by the driver intuitively”, the concept links people and vehicles through the body and the heart, and becomes more fun to drive the more it is used.

Connecting with the driver’s body: Rather than using a steering wheel, the Toyota FV2 is operated by the driver shifting his or her body to intuitively move the vehicle forward and back, left and right. In addition, by using ITS technology to connect with other vehicles in the area andtraffic infrastructure, the Toyota FV2 supports safe driving by providing advance warnings about vehicles in blind spots at intersections and other safety information.

Connecting with the driver’s heart: Toyota envisions a driver-vehicle relationship similar to the relationship that a rider might have with a horse. By incorporating technology from the “Toyota Heart Project,” both the driver and the Toyota FV2 can grow together. The vehicle uses voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s mood and uses that assessment and accumulated information on driving ability and history to suggest destinations as a co-pilot that helps the driver better experience the joys of driving. In addition to an augmented reality (AR)1 display on the windshield, the body color and exterior display are changeable at will, creating a more intimate relationship with the driver.

You can download an app that will give you a sneak peek at what the FV2 is like to drive here.

© Morio with CCLicense
© Morio with CCLicense

This is a beautiful little machine whose color can be linked with the mood of the driver– watch out for Jim, he’s been red all week– and promises the driver not only a mode of transportation, but a relationship. Technology has proved itself able to isolate us from the world around us. Will it some day be able to restore what it has taken away?


4 thoughts on “Feeling the Road: The Toyota FV2

  1. Michael Kriegh Reply

    Well, here is an approach that follows the humans will merge with machines way of thinking about the future. Ray Kurzweil is a big advocate of this approach. The other way is more about the machines taking over, which they might do. I unfortunately think we are trending to the machines taking over side of things, corporations being anxious to rid themselves of the labor force…

    • katmcdaniel Reply

      We give machines too much responsibility, I agree. We can either use them to improve our abilities or to accomplish things we are too lazy or cheap to do. The latter seems to prevail most of the time, but there is hope.

      • mkriegh

        The truth might be bigger than that. The question is whither intelligence? There is no particular reason that humans will remain the apex of it. Perhaps they already are not. One thing that adjusted my thinking on this a whole lot was coming to the realization that human exploration of outerspace was pretty much idiotic (unless we find warp drive). There simply isn’t any place habitable that can be reached even within a lifetime right now. What may not be idiotic though is the development of alternative life forms designed to survive and thrive in that environment. It probably won’t have much to do with flesh and blood. Hopefully there is something about flesh and blood that contributes a quality that intelligence cannot do without.

        Ken Wilber has some interesting thoughts on the evolution of intelligent life forms. Put him together with Kurzweil and you have the flesh combined with machines way of looking at things pretty well worked out…

      • katmcdaniel

        Oh no doubt. What will be interesting is to see how the illogical side develops in these new creatures. Intelligence has not always been “fool proof” when it comes to evolution and has not always been the deciding factor for what survives. What makes us non-durable and weak is that we are made of meat. 🙂

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