Artificial intelligence has possibly been the most popular term in 2023 so far – many industries are starting to explore new problem-solving possibilities thanks to machine learning technologies. The automotive industry isn’t lagging behind with many companies already using AI for different tasks within their research and development divisions. Toyota now announces it is starting to research AI-based car design thanks to its generative artificial intelligence technique developed by the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

Don’t worry – your next Tacoma truck won’t have a purely AI-designed exterior. Instead, Toyota wants to use the technology in the early design stages where different iterations of a certain project are needed for engineering considerations. Or, simply put, if the automaker decides to build a new large two-door coupe, it could ask AI to generate a number of early designs based on preset parameters. Such is the case with the rendering you see attached at the top of this article – it has been created by artificial intelligence.

Gallery: Toyota AI tech for vehicle design

“Generative AI tools are often used as inspiration for designers, but cannot handle the complex engineering and safety considerations that go into actual car design,” Avinash Balachandran, director of TRI’s Human Interactive Driving (HID) Division, explains. “This technique combines Toyota’s traditional engineering strengths with the state-of-the-art capabilities of modern generative AI.”

The new generative technique by TRI uses parameters such as a drag coefficient and chassis dimensions like ride height and cabin dimensions. The parameters are given to the AI via text prompt and the designers could also use specific stylistic properties such as “sleek” and “modern.” The main focus falls on the aerodynamic side of the design, which is very important for the energy efficiency of the vehicle. Toyota says the AI-enhanced early design process could help the company develop electrified vehicles more quickly and efficiently. 

Just recently, BMW also admitted it is toying with the idea of automotive design created by artificial intelligence. The Bavarian company is still only experimenting but says AI could soon cover various design tasks for upcoming production vehicles. Again, don’t worry – at no point BMW will let AI take full charge of the design process.

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