Coming soon: cars that wink, laugh, cry, and get angry

June 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 11 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

In the future, your car will detect danger possibilities and protect you as you encounter other cars on the road. It will automatically display a happy, sad, or angry look to convey appropriate feelings to other drivers in response to their action. This is the vision of four Toyota Motor employees in Japan who recently patented this creative technology.

Car modifications include a hood with slits and designs that resemble eyebrows, eyelids and tears, which glow with different light shades and colors to reflect desired moods; an antenna that wags like a puppy dog’s tail to show happiness; and a body that can crouch low on its wheelbase when timid, or stand tall to express displeasure.

By 2015 or before, “cars with feelings” could be arriving at dealer showrooms everywhere. These cars can display a wide range of expressions to help us interact with other drivers on the road. Today, we can only honk horns, tap brakes, flash headlights, or use turn signals. It’s difficult to thank another driver for letting us enter the lane, or to show disapproval at someone who cuts us off.

The intelligence system on these new cars with personalities calculate road and vehicle conditions such as steering angle, braking, and speed. It also correlates driver reactions, road and car conditions, and automatically creates correct color and position for the eyebrows, antenna, lights and vehicle height.

If a pre-set number of points indicate an approaching careless or hostile driver, the system creates an anger reaction. The headlights glow red, the eyebrows light up, but the antenna and height remains in a standard “cool” position. A happy, satisfied look is displayed to reward a courteous driver. A friendly “wink” shows that you agree with a driver’s action, or it could also be an attempt at flirting. (cont.)

Today, it’s easy to think negative when someone honks their horn or flashes their lights, when in fact they may mean something less intimidating. With “feeling cars”, drivers can display emotions that get their point across, instead of those that end up with flashing middle fingers, or reckless driving.

Although cars that display human-like emotions could be seen as entertaining, developers believe the technology promises a lot more. Drivers will get along better on the road when they can share judgments about each other’s driving in positive ways. This will make driving less frustrating, less stressful, and less troublesome for everyone.

Tomorrow’s cars will also be equipped with “natural voice” speech-recognition systems. IBM and Honda recently teamed up to provide on-board state-of-the-art voice technology. The Acura RL and Honda Odyssey are already equipped with these new systems, which includes satellite navigation, with voice-activated controls for audio, DVD, cell phone, and temperature adjustment.

From 2010 to 2020, cars will become far more intelligent than today. With development of “smart roads”, they will drive themselves, be completely accident-free, and achieve speeds up to 200 miles per hour. These futuristic cars will speak with a human-like voice and some will even develop personalities rivaling that of family members. For car lovers, this “magical future” might seem like a dream come true!

Comments welcome.

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