June 26, 2022

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You can talk to this Toyota

You can talk to this Toyota

Frank Wilksen is a veteran of Broom’s editorial board. He has worked as an automotive journalist for over 50 years and tested a large number of cars both at home and abroad.

Some cars remember it better than others. Frank now shares the memories with all of his Broom readers. This time it’s a very special test car from Toyota:

Voice control of various functions in the car has become very popular over the past ten to fifteen years. This news impressed many. I still think it’s cool to say who I want to call – then Bluetooth in the car fixes the rest!

But car voice control is far from something new. As early as 1984, I was able to tell Vi Menn readers about “the car that no longer just talks to you, but talks to you! Ask him to set the heat, and he does! He also accepts requests for lights, window cleaners, and other jobs.”

Liked the electronics

The car I was talking about was the Toyota FX-1 concept, which I recently studied in more detail at one of the major auto shows. It was, in my opinion, one of the most exciting test cars today. And there were a lot of them at that time.

The car’s impressive styling, with the Cw at an incredibly low 0.25, was naturally exciting – but the electronics were and still are the most impressive.

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Start and stop window cleaners

In the obvious first place here came the advanced voice control system. Already for several years we have experienced sounds from inside the dashboard telling us about the condition of various systems, such as low oil levels and the like.

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But in the Toyota FX-1, this has been taken a long step forward, to a system that “can perceive and understand the human voice – and perform a variety of tasks on direct commands – such as regulating heating and ventilation systems, turning lights on and off on and off, turning off window cleaners and a number of Another fun thing that you can of course do well on your own is that’s not all.”

This is how the Toyota FX-1 was presented in Vi Menn in 1984.

Ending the unit

Perhaps the user scenario I envisioned was far from a possible practical use, but this is how I envisioned a “conversation” between driver and car at the time:

«You: – Are you beginning to feel a little cold here?

Car: – Should I increase the temperature?

You: – Yes, thank you, it could be nice.

The car (after a few minutes): – Is it better now?

You: – Yes, excellent. By the way, turn on the window cleaners a few strokes, you will feel a little dizzy.

Car: – Alright.

Absolutely! Quit loneliness during long, exhausting trips along the country road – you can have a conversation with the car, at least, “I can report on this,” he added, “By the way, the conversation partner also keeps his monologues, eg to warn you forgot to turn off the light or forgot to You put on your seat belt or you have a faulty brake light.”

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regisonar

The Toyota FX-1 had a lot to offer, to show what Toyota had already been developing in the field of advanced electronics since the 1960s. The car, for example, has glare-free interior mirrors, locks, keyless ignition, air conditioning control, electronic automatic transmission control, self-diagnostic system and navigation!

Toyota already had electronic cruise control in 1967, but in the FX-1 this was further developed into an adaptive radar-controlled system that always ensured a safe minimum distance from the vehicle in front.

Another big news in the FX-1 is the rear sonar: “It’s also a strange feature as of now. It uses ultrasound to measure the distance to objects or other obstructions behind the vehicle while reversing. Both warning lights and acoustic signals alert the driver of potential dangers,” I can say.

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sensor signals

Magnetic cards to program the exact best seat position and correct power of the air conditioning system were part of the long list of new equipment. There we also found automatic lighting that turns the headlights on and off controlled by lighting conditions, and which also ensures switching between low beam and high beam controlled by sensors at the front of the car.

Electronics were not only used to control functionality and comfort. It was also at that time of great importance for the operation of the economy and consumption.

Here Toyota introduced the Toyota Computer Control System (TCCS), which was a control system for the engine and automatic transmission. The system works on the basis of sensor signals and data stored in a small computer. This was fed, among other things, with data in order to set the optimum ignition under all possible operating conditions, and otherwise ensure that the idle speed was kept at the correct level.

Simultaneously with the introduction of the FX-1, Toyota also brought in this design study - which appeared two years later as the MR-2.  Photo: Toyota

Simultaneously with the introduction of the FX-1, Toyota also brought in this design study – which appeared two years later as the MR-2. Photo: Toyota

Three driving modes

“However, one of the most interesting things is the ability of the system to give its own diagnosis if something goes wrong. The results of this diagnosis are stored in the computer’s memory, and remain stored even when the ignition is turned off.

Also interesting is the computer control of the automatic transmission. This ensures the most appropriate time for gear changes, which is of course important for operating economy.

The system also offers alternatives: you can choose between a sports (strength) center and a financial center at checkout – if you no longer choose to stay in the “normal”. Not bad, three ways to drive already!

250 HP – 1984

Of course, electronics were also in the chassis. Here sat an electronically controlled hydropneumatic suspension that automatically determines the correct ground clearance, suspension characteristics and some other functions.

And yes, the FX-1 also had an engine—six with twin overhead camshafts, 24 valves and two turbochargers. Toyota didn’t want any influence, but my guess was that “something special under the 250 hp we doubt”. And 250 HP was a lot in 1984!

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