Toyota is set to unveil concept cars that it says can read the emotions of drivers, talk to them and, if necessary, take over the controls.
It sounds like something out of the hit 1980s television show Knight Rider, which saw Michael Knight, played by David Hasselhoff, fight crime with the help of his talking car KITT.
But Toyota, which has its UK manufacturing plant at Burnaston, in Derbyshire, is pursuing the idea of implementing the use of artificial intelligence in future models.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, which starts next week, it will unveil its Concept-i series of vehicles – the four-wheel Toyota Concept-i, the Concept-i RIDE (a smaller car suitable for all users, including those with limited mobility) and the Concept-i WALK, which is a “walking area” vehicle, designed for safe use on pavements among pedestrians.
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All three are fully electric vehicles, which utilise artificial intelligence (AI).Toyota said that the AI technology allows the vehicles to “understand their drivers, allowing people and cars to become partners who can learn and develop with each other”.
In Knight Rider, KITT could talk to Michael Knight, played by David Hasselhoff
It said that the Toyota Concept-i series had been conceived and guided by the principle of being “more than a machine, but a partner”.
The cars have technology which Toyota said “understands people”, applying AI to recognise human emotions and estimate what the driver’s preferences will be.
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The firm said that cameras in the cars gauge the driver’s alertness and emotional state, reading and interpreting their expressions, actions and tone of voice.
The technology monitors the reliability of both driver and car. If the driver is deemed to be in a “dangerous or highly stressed state”, Concept-i can take over control of the car if necessary in what is known as “automated driving”.
The Concept-i car can read people’s emotions, according to Toyota
At present, some cars use automated technology via sensors to change lanes, reverse safely into parking spaces or apply the brakes before an anticipated collision.
Toyota said: “It also provides support by stimulating the senses, including sight, touch and smell, according to the driver’s mood, and levels of alertness and fatigue. This can help drivers feel more relaxed and combat drowsiness.”
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Toyota also said the Concept-i cars will be fun to drive, with drivers able to have conversations with their car.
It said: “Concept-i can engage in conversations based on its understanding of the driver’s mood and preferences.
The Concept-i series will be exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show next week
“The car suggests topics of interest, creating a new style of two-way, free conversation.
“It can also create an ‘emotion map’, periodically charting the driver’s emotional state and GPS information.
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“Using the information it gathers on individual emotions as big data, the Concept-i series can suggest new, enjoyable routes as slight detours from planned journeys.”
At the moment, the Concept-i series is just that – a concept. AI is an experimental technology and there are no plans as of yet to put these cars into full production – so it might be some time before we see these built at places such as Burnaston.
But Toyota has said it will begin road testing some of the technology by around 2020.
Source: Derby Telegraph