She could speak with you, help with shopping, or even adapt to your mood : the car of the future there may be more in need of a driver, but she intends to keep a central role in the lives of consumers. And all the car manufacturers are in the starting blocks.
“The idea is to be more than a machine, to be a partner, to make you happy,” says Amanda McCoy, a representative of the world number one Toyota car. This is achieved by “a lot of investments in the autonomous control and the addition of emotions to the vehicle”, and this is illustrated in the “Concept-i”, a vehicle created by the japanese group and with a graphical user interface with artificial intelligence.
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In the simulation carried out at the salon electronics ces in Las Vegas, the car begins to speak to the driver as soon as he settled behind the wheel. It suggests destinations and request to confirm to program the navigation software. It is observed with a camera, finds him “look very happy” and decided to take “the road the most happy”, as the more scenic. In the scenario of a conduct manual city car, the vehicle remains alert, warning of potential hazards (pedestrian, red light) with sound and light signals. When it switches to autonomous control, the ambient light changes, the front seats recline, and begin to massage the backs of the passengers.
A garden on the cover
The swiss company Rinspeed presented in Las Vegas another prototype, the electric vehicle urban Oasis, designed with a series of industrial partners… and a miniature garden on the cover. “A wink”, says its boss, Frank Rinderknecht, who wants to show “a different image of the car”. “The interior of the cars in the future will be entirely redefined, as the needs will be different,” he argued. “And the greatest force behind it, it is the autonomous control.”
The self-driving cars, which some actors in the sector promise a series production around 2020, are a main theme at ces this year, with prototypes and demonstrations in the streets of Las Vegas by a number of manufacturers and suppliers. But if it does not lead, it opens the door to many other activities.
The Oasis is compared to a living room with wheels, with a spacious interior and adaptable. When it switches to the autonomous mode, the steering wheel folds down to accommodate a tablet with a keyboard and a cup holder. On the screen taking up the entire width of the front windscreen, useful information for driving give way to revenue-generating applications (videoconference) or entertainment. Rinspeed has thought his vehicle for a shared-use, with also a tray back to carry the mail or deliveries to third parties. And it was packed full of technology with holographic projections on the windshield and a lot of connectivity.
“The idea is not to put the complete car in production, but elements,” said Mr Rinderknecht. “We have technologies ready today already, and others which will be in two-three years.” The vehicles are already very connected to, and begin to talk with virtual assistants with voice command. Nissan and BMW have announced at ces the integration of the Microsoft Cortana, while Ford preferred to Alexa, developed by Amazon.
Ensure the well-being
Some are looking to transform the car into a payment platform, such as Honda, which shows, in co-operation with the issuer of bank cards, a Visa, a pilot system to adjust directly from the car to the pump or in the car park. Several actors of the automotive sector are also planning to customize the user experience with the voice recognition, a facial, or even biometric. This could allow to propose a different audio to the passengers in the same car, to remember settings for different users, or to adapt the indoor environment to their mood and their state of fatigue.
Hyundai, for example, explains that we can have sensors in the seat to assess the posture, in the seat belt for monitoring respiration and respiratory in the wheel to follow the rhythm of the heart, and detect and that a driver risk of falling asleep or is in a situation of stress. The south Korean group experiments on sensory responses : to wake up a driver sleepy with the fresh air, a blue light and a smell of mint, or the calm with a light, a smell and a temperature more warm. Systems such as these may help to decrease accidents, but also to “re-engage” in an emergency situation a driver in a car in autonomous mode, advance David Mitropoulos-Rundus, who is working on these issues at Hyundai.