When you’re on a long journey of a few hundred miles, I’m sure you’ll agree, driving gets pretty boring. And if we know we’re going to be in a car for a few hours then most of us would take someone for the company, someone we like, who can hold an intelligent conversation and maybe even help with the directions. You could of course just use a SatNav but it can’t have a chat with you and it only pipes up when you need to make a turn. Other than that there’s silence in the car.
Silence on a long journey ain’t golden, silence can cause the driver’s mind to wander and lose concentration, which can lead to some horrendous consequences. So silence ain’t safe either. You can turn on the radio, listen to a playlist or wind down the windows to help keep your focus and yes they’ll help for a while, but it’s still just you in the car.
As you already know research into self driving cars is well underway with prototypes being tested and tweaked by the geeks and there’s no doubt that they are the long term future of transportation. But as we’re not all going to have access to, or be able to afford one, there is research and work going into making the car of the future smarter, to make them capable of being a driver companion. A car with artificial intelligence that will adapt, become attentive and sensitive to you the driver.
You might be thinking, horse shit, but just like driverless cars, sensitive cars with AI are on there way too. And sooner rather than later. Here’s what a car in the future will be able to do…
- You’ll be able to ask your car proper questions
A lot of, if not most, of us, will have some kind of artificially intelligent device already. You’ve got a “smartphone” right, with Cortana or Siri? And you might have Amazons Alexa or Google’s home hub in your home that might control your lights, your heating, your music your tv, your curtains, etc. You tell it what you want it to do and voila!
This kind of technology will be available in a car in the future and not too far into the future either. In fact, Mercedes is plugging in Siri into their new A-class cars. It’ll get to know the driver’s voice and how they speak so it’ll be able to “understand” what the driver means, just like a real person would.
2. Tell your car what to do before you get in it.
There are those of us who have dreamed of a car that had its own missile rack, wheel slasher hubs, and tear gas dispensers so you could get your own back on the a-hole who cut you up, with a short sharp voice command. Just like the Batmobile. Although it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to dispatch bad drivers with gadgets like that, there is wearable smart band technology that will give us the ability to talk to our cars from some distance away. To turn on the heater, set the SatNav, warm the seats and even start the engine. And if you can’t remember where you’ve parked it you could ask it to flash it’s lights or sound the horn from a small band you’ve got on your wrist.
3. The new Ai’s will keep you focussed and safe
There are existing systems that aim to keep the driver alert and awake, some of them ping sound at you whilst other vibrate to help keep you aware and safe. But in just a couple of years from now, there are plans to have camera’s in cars to watch what the driver’s doing.
The car would then be able to tell if the driver is too tired to keep driving, or God forbid, drunk and would be able to take appropriate action and either slow down, call someone to check in with the driver. But if there was no response then the car could take over and find a safe place to stop and park. From a safety standpoint, this has merit, but you have to wonder if there is a big brother privacy issue to consider?
4. No more road rage
Cars with an increasing level of intelligent perception won’t just be looking at what’s going on with the driver and other vehicles, they’ll be able to pick up on how the driver is feeling and their mood. There is an AI already developed that can monitor a driver’s heart rate, their eyes movements, their tone of voice and facial expressions.
This AI driver’s assistant could learn how the driver drives and their habits, so if they detect a change in the driver’s mood they could play some of their favorite music, or suggest a nice place to drive to, to try calming them down. It might need to do a bit more than that to get rid of road rage altogether but it’s a step in the right direction.
5. A built-in butler
So far the new future car AI will try keeping you all safe, warm and fuzzy, so let’s take another step, how about an AI that can not only detect your mood but actually do something about it. For example, an AI that can take over the driving for you, change the display’s on your windows with photos and calming scenes if it detects that you’re stressed. With cars that have “smart glass,” the AI could make it so that you couldn’t see the outside and go into “cocoon mode” to provide a peaceful and restful environment for the occupants, whilst serving drinks and snacks. This type of technology is away off yet, but be assured it’s on it’s way too.
Now whether you like the idea or not these are some of the things that a car in the future is going to be able to do. Which then begs the question…
Are we controlling technology or is it controlling us?