Another year, another automaker hopping aboard the latest tech bandwagon. Lexus is trying out AI, and it looks about as good as you’d expect. The Japanese luxury marque has announced that people attending the New York International Auto Show this year will be able to envision an RX 350 crossover or RZ 450e crossover against “nearly any backdrop they like.”
The engine at the heart of this stunt is a proprietary soup cooked up by Toyota Connected North America. Take a cup of Stable Diffusion and a cup of ControlNet, mix them together with a dash of LAION-5B for art styles, feed it all more than 500 pictures of each vehicle, then simmer until extra medium.
From Lexus’s press release about :
…guests attending NYIAS at the Jacob Javits Center from April 7-16 are able to type in a prompt for the Lexus RX or RZ, placing either vehicle in a setting limited only by their imagination, and manifest that vision into existence.
At the Lexus display, guests are guided through prompts that generate images that appear on a 98-inch screen, featuring either the Lexus RX or RZ. Afterward, guests can send themselves their images via email, allowing them to bring their art home with them with nearly any backdrop they could fathom – even in a galaxy far, far away.
To develop the AI art tool, Lexus collaborated with data scientists and machine learning engineers at Toyota Connected North America (TCNA), a data, cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning and software center of excellence headquartered in Plano, Texas. TCNA leveraged state-of-the-art Generative AI models such as Stable Diffusion and ControlNet architectures to train a proprietary Generative AI model to generate photorealistic or artistic style images – all by way of text input. The model was trained on more than 500 photos of each vehicle, capturing every detail imaginable.
The problem is that the results are a bit crap, and what’s hilarious is that Lexus’ has the images on its website under headings like: “2023 New York International Auto Show Guests Use Artificial Intelligence To Create Their Picture-Perfect Lexus.” Check out the wheels on this thing!
Last time I checked, Lexus never used The Relentless Pursuit of Good Enough as a slogan. Look at this image of a new RX 350. Not only do the wheels look like they struck a curb at 70 mph, the lighting is all kinds of weird like a bad photoshop or cheaply-done green screen:
This RZ 450e is a bit better as it leans into the art side of things. The lighting is surprisingly good and the majority of the details aren’t horrendous, but the wheels aren’t even close to round and it looks like someone urinated on the lower bodywork. Awkward.
Here’s another RZ 450e with a side vent that doesn’t exist on the production car, wonky door handles, wheels that couldn’t possibly be structurally sound, a missing bit of black detailing on the front end, and a hood shut line wonkier than a typical shoreline.
The problem with Lexus’ AI image system is that we’ve seen images of similar quality out of DALL-E Mini months ago, and auto show-goers shopping for a new car would prefer a photorealistic configuration rather than some computer’s half-witted interpretation of a car. If I booted up Land Rover’s configurator to customize a new Defender, I wouldn’t appreciate it if the square on the greenhouse looked ovoid.
Those of us who’ve been around at auto shows for several years might remember the array of automakers that tried out augmented reality. Nissan did it with the Cube, Mazda did it with the Mazda 2, and while primitive, it was neat. However, it served a useful purpose. Back in 2010, few manufacturer websites had particularly good 3D models of new cars, and these AR stunts filled a gap. Meanwhile, this AI art business answers a question nobody asked with a solution that’s not very good.
On the plus side, at least Lexus didn’t use its most beautiful cars for this AI attempt. Could you imagine how horrible an LC 500 run through this engine would look? It would have extra gills and a distorted face and ride on semi-circular wheels that would sap all the grace from the gorgeous large grand tourer.
Instead of looking at Lexus’ latest stunt and thinking it’s a good idea, here’s an idea I’m offering to any carmaker for free: VR using a service like Google Streetview. Customers can strap goggles on, and take a look at a new car anywhere in the world — in front of the space needle, beneath Big Ben, in their own driveway, doesn’t matter. Figure out the legwork on that and you’ll have an auto show gimmick that looks fantastic in a press release.
(Photo credits: Lexus)
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Amazing that Lexus still keeps with the Predator face. I mean it was ugly on an Aygo (also a Toyota) years ago and they went away from it on most cars. Just not very eye pleasing in any way at all.
I thought that nose in the lead imagine was the ai distortion.I’d forgotten that horror show exists in real life.
unless you are getting a different image on your page, the lede image for me IS one of the AI mishaps. the only one not an AI image is the LC 500.
Those wheels look more “Dali” than “DALL-E”
I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have like four or five stock images of the vehicle and just stick them on the backgrounds. Unless they want the vehicles warped for an artsy look?
(also, friendly Autopian staff, whenever I use the link to sign in I still get redirected to enter my username and password. Just an FYI on that.)
That LC should be in the next Bond movie, it’s that pretty.
So wheels are to AI cars what hands are to AI people?
Now we need an article explaining how this ties in to the homunculus theory.
I can already hear the typewriter-tapping emanating from Jason’s basement.
And these are the photos they choose to display. I imagine some of the rejected ones must be complete nightmares.
AI, render me a Lexus with human hands driving along a cow’s spine.
Please try that out.
Get me to the show and I absolutely will. It matches perfectly with my philosophy of only dealing with AI programs in chaotic ways that will hopefully make them worse.
Lexus RZ 450e in the trash incinerator from Toy Story 3
Can it generate an LFA in my driveway?
Id happily “settle” for an LC, which is my current semi attainable dream car
Heck, I’d genuinely rather have the LC. I find them to be most attractive and if you gave me one I could afford to insure and maintain it.
The LC is great too, but you guys’ posts betray a serious lack of V10 dreaming.
I personally don’t like to waste my dreaming on things I’ll never be able to obtain, if that makes sense. Even back when I was a teenager I never dreamed of being rich or famous really. I’ve always just wanted to be able to put a rewarding life together for myself where I don’t have to stress about money or the little things.
I chose a realistic career path for it and have advanced at a normal to slightly-quicker-than-normal pace. My wife and I have each said we’d basically be happy with where we are right now for the rest of our lives, although fortunately if we keep at our current pace there will likely be greater rewards down the road.
Anyway, to me the LC is something I could conceivably obtain. Hell, I could afford to finance a used one right now if I really wanted to…it would just be a summarily unwise use of our money. But in 5-10 years? Who knows. There’s something very satisfying about setting realistic goals for yourself and actually being able to reach them. Some may tell me I could dream bigger, but I don’t really lust after the finer things in life like a lot of folks do. I enjoy living with a certain degree of comfort but I’m not hard to please.
Also it’s important to add that I grew up pretty wealthy, got to experience a lot of rich people stuff, and more or less realized that a lot of it didn’t really matter to me. So my perspective is definitely unique and I’ll acknowledge that I’m coming from a place of privilege.
This reply is much more serious than my whimsical V10 dreaming fantasy deserved.
I don’t expect to ever own an LFA either, because silly posts on car blog articles are much easier to generate than V10 supercars.
It sounds like you made better life choices than most.Well done.
I for example didnt start making realistic choices until my mid 20s,and even then it was just a first step.