Will autonomous cars replace the freedom of the open road with the “predictability” of machines? Here’s an alternative from Toyota.
One can see why a car that drives itself is an attractive car: passengers are free to text, read, eat, or do anything they please while headed to their destination and cars can be scheduled to be at a particular place at a particular time. Accidents can be avoided, as long as nothing goes wrong with the system. This technology is instrumental for flying cars, which pose a threat to buildings and the people in them. These are some of the reasons that Google may be driving you to work in the future. Sound comforting? They are heavily involved in the development of autonomous cars. No wonder they are obsessed with mapping the world.
What about the fun of the open road and the excitement of going somewhere unplanned? The ability to wander is part of the lure of the automobile. We already bemoan the cultivation of short attention spans and the inability to interface without a screen. If the loss of control and awareness bothers you, you might be interested in the technology behind the Toyota FV2, shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show last month.
Toyota has this to say about their new vehicle:
The Toyota FV2 is a concept car that maintains the “Fun to Drive” philosophy even in a world where automated driving technology has proliferated. As a vehicle that can be “understood by the driver intuitively”, the concept links people and vehicles through the body and the heart, and becomes more fun to drive the more it is used.
Connecting with the driver’s body: Rather than using a steering wheel, the Toyota FV2 is operated by the driver shifting his or her body to intuitively move the vehicle forward and back, left and right. In addition, by using ITS technology to connect with other vehicles in the area andtraffic infrastructure, the Toyota FV2 supports safe driving by providing advance warnings about vehicles in blind spots at intersections and other safety information.
Connecting with the driver’s heart: Toyota envisions a driver-vehicle relationship similar to the relationship that a rider might have with a horse. By incorporating technology from the “Toyota Heart Project,” both the driver and the Toyota FV2 can grow together. The vehicle uses voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s mood and uses that assessment and accumulated information on driving ability and history to suggest destinations as a co-pilot that helps the driver better experience the joys of driving. In addition to an augmented reality (AR)1 display on the windshield, the body color and exterior display are changeable at will, creating a more intimate relationship with the driver.
You can download an app that will give you a sneak peek at what the FV2 is like to drive here.
This is a beautiful little machine whose color can be linked with the mood of the driver– watch out for Jim, he’s been red all week– and promises the driver not only a mode of transportation, but a relationship. Technology has proved itself able to isolate us from the world around us. Will it some day be able to restore what it has taken away?