Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly capable of performing complex tasks. Toyota plans to harness the power of AI to improve the car design process while optimizing vehicle aerodynamics, a critical factor in enhancing EV range.
How Toyota plans to use AI to enhance EV range
The Toyota Research Institute (TRI), Toyota’s R&D division aimed at developing products and technology that can “dramatically improve the quality of life for individuals and society,” unveiled its latest innovation Tuesday.
Researchers revealed a new generative AI technique that can improve the vehicle design process, giving designers access to new capabilities, according to Toyota.
Avinash Balachandran (director of TRI’s Human Interactive Driving Division), whose team worked on the technology, explained, “Generative AI tools are often used as inspiration for design, but they cannot handle the complex engineering and safety considerations that go into actual car design.”
Engineers often reject initial designs as they go beyond certain restraints. The back-and-forth process can take valuable time away from production and deliveries.
Balachandran claims the new AI tool will change that, adding the “Technique combines Toyota’s traditional engineering strengths with the state of the are capabilities of modern generative AI.”
TRI’s new AI technique incorporates precise engineering constraints directly into the design process, such as drag, ride height, and cabin dimensions. In addition, by using text-to-image-based techniques, designers can modify their initial sketches using text prompts.
For example, a designer can input through text for the sketch to look more sleek or SUV-like and modern. The team focused on how the AI tool can be used to help improve aerodynamics, a critical factor in EV range.
By incorporating the constraints directly into the design process, the tool could help Toyota design EVs more efficiently and effectively. AS Takero Kato, Toyota BEV factory president, explained:
Reducing drag is critical for improving the aerodynamics of BEVs to maximize their range.
The innovation comes less than a week after Toyota revealed several new technologies to accelerate EV development and production.
Toyota plans to introduce several next-gen EV batteries between 2026 and 2028 that the company claims will double the range over its current electric model, the bZ4X.