Toyota’s empathetic car of the future is there for you.
You’ve had a frustrating day at work; it plays soft music and lowers the temperature. You’re lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood; it offers to take over the driving.
You start to nod off at the wheel; it taps you on the shoulder and starts up a conversation.
This unconventional interplay between the driver and automobile is central to concept cars that Honda and Toyota unveiled at the annual CES technology conference in Las Vegas this week. In the not-so-distant future, vehicles will not only be safer or more efficient. They will be our companion, watching our every move.
These cars, which only exist today as partially functional concepts, will use powerful artificial intelligence systems to memorize and store information about every passengers’ likes and dislikes, how they speak, and the places they frequent, all to make decisions the car feels are in the riders’ interest.
The auto industry’s pursuit of a hyper-personal experience comes as the very nature of automotive transportation is in flux. Many industry observers expect ride-sharing services will become more popular, with autonomous driving to follow. People may rely less on personal cars to get around, a prospect that is “going to change the business model of private car ownership dramatically,” said Karl Brauer, a Kelley Blue Book analyst.
With the basic business of buying and selling cars potentially facing a major change in the decades ahead, information about drivers and passengers is likely to hold tremendous value for automakers. While this may also lead to greater convenience for motorists, it creates yet another platform where our most sensitive data could be susceptible to privacy infringement and security hacks.
“Artificial intelligence and big data will make vehicles one of the most important windows into the habits of consumers next to their own phones and computers,” said Ed Hellwig, the executive editor at Edmunds.com. “Automakers will know more than they ever have about how their vehicles are used, which could lead to entirely new designs and features.”
As with concept cars past, Toyota and Honda’s new vehicles could be seen as quixotic playthings for car heads and tech geeks. Concept cars are built to introduce bold ideas, practical and otherwise. But Robert Carter, Toyota’s senior vice president of automotive operations, told an audience at CES on Wednesday that components of its concept car will be tested on roads in Japan in the coming years.
What’s more, nearly all of the concepts are rooted in technology already being honed today. Start-ups and legacy automakers alike are testing applications for artificial intelligence and big data inside cars, and connecting those systems with your phone, home appliances and the other Internet-enabled devices that permeate our daily lives.
Read more of the original article at The Washington Post.