October 20, 2001 Jointly developed by Toyota and Sony, the Pod is a concept car to explore the potential for communications between people and their cars. Toyota says "It's more than a tool. It's a partner that shares your moods and grows with you just like your family and friends".
One of the features is that the pod can express driver's feelings as well as its own feeling by using LEDs on the front panel. For example, when the driver approaches, the car makes a cheerful expression by putting on orange colored LEDs. When he brakes hard, the car gets angry and express the feeling by using red LEDs. The 'face' can express ten different emotional states. The tail (antenna) at the rear can also wag to express feelings just like a dog!
The second feature is that the Pod can learn the driver's taste and adjust to create a suitable environment, and thus it can grow with the driver. A handy terminal, called "mini pod" and developed by Sony, memorizes musical and TV program preferences based on driver's activity in the home, and by processing those information, it chooses background music and provides shopping guidance.
The driver also can grow with the car. The Pod detects the driver's emotional states and provides advice on driving. Comparing pre-recorded driving data of an expert driver with the current driver's skill, the Pod displays on the central monitor words and icons of praise or warnings. Drivers can improve their driving skill by checking the display and following the instructions.
Styled by Toyota designers, the exterior is quite unusual, but friendly. The front and the rear are identical and thus the side view is symmetric. Toyota says that it portrays an image of cuteness as a member of the family and at the same time an image suiting an IT concept car.