Monday, November 12, 2007

In-Car Robots..."R2" Cute

On the Horizon
Who couldn’t use a little company on those long road trips? The advent of radio gave drivers that sense of riding with someone else. Obviously, radio falls way short of being a replacement for human interaction. Well…there’s always the phone. Cell phones quench that thirst to converse, surely. What if your needs are more diverse? Say you can’t drive another minute without your favorite tune blaring in your ear or you need to search a location on your GPS while speeding along the highway. Should you distract yourself from driving long enough to complete these tasks? These and many other minor dilemmas will soon be a thing of the past for drivers. In-car robots promise to “serve as a driver's partner to share the driver's feelings, react to the driver's situations, and communicate with the driver.”
Facial recognition software can already read and copy facial expressions successfully. Through constant video monitoring, these Robots would be able to read your facial expressions and determine your emotional state or level of alertness. The system would then offer music and lighting that would complement your emotions by calming you, waking you up, or just helping maintain your pleasant state of mind. The in-car robot possibly would suggest for you to pull over and rest, or maybe even attempt to cheer you up. In addition the robot would have control over all car electronics that required your input. Car gadgets would be controlled by the robot via voice command. These robots are in the developmental stages, car manufactures and after-market manufactures (Pioneer) have started displaying these technologies on the car show circuit. Lovable ‘toy-ish’ robots have popped up in concept cars like the Nissan Pivo 2 which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last week.