Digital Passenger With Human Shapes

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Digital Passenger With Human Shapes
Digital Passenger With Human Shapes

Video: Digital Passenger With Human Shapes

Video: Digital Passenger With Human Shapes
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From the virtual secretary to the on-board robot telling jokes - the technology in the car is becoming more and more sophisticated. Avatars will soon also be there.

There are more and more electronic assistance and control systems in cars. They improve comfort, take the strain off the driver and watch over his safety. So far, however, the electronics have mostly operated in the dark and only speak up in particularly dangerous situations. If the developers of the Japanese automakers in particular and their design studies have their way, then in the future my colleague Computer will actually become an electronic passenger and take on almost humanoid forms.

"Already today, virtual secretaries are programmed in many Japanese navigation systems who greet the driver in the morning, wish him a nice day and only clear the screen for the map after a polite bow," says German designer Tobias Nagel, who works at Nissan in Tokyo examines future trends. Because the Japanese are increasingly lonely in metropolises like Tokyo on the one hand and are fond of technical gadgets on the other, the customers of the future will no longer be satisfied with them, Nagel estimates.

That is why the development departments of the manufacturers presented the first cars at the motor show in Tokyo (until November 11th) in which all assistance systems are bundled in a small robot. This takes on the role of the electronic passenger.

Pivo II & Rin

Nagel's design Pivo II goes the furthest. The city car, driven by four electric motors in the wheel hubs, has a digital co-driver in the cockpit, which the designers have even given a face. With the help of video analysis, according to developer Takeshi Mitumara, the robot not only recognizes who is getting in and can therefore greet the driver personally. He also reads from the facial features whether the person behind the wheel is in a good mood or in a bad mood, slept well or tired. "We know from studies that a bad-tempered driver has a higher risk of an accident," says Mitumara, explaining why the robot makes faces in such cases, tells jokes and engages the driver in a conversation.

The developers at Toyota are so concerned about the well-being of their customers that they put the Rin study on wheels for the trade fair. Designed in the style of a Japanese tea house, it should be an oasis of peace and quiet. The electronics decide which atmosphere is right on the basis of the driver's mood, which is determined by ECG sensors for the heartbeat on the steering wheel.

Avatars on board

But the Japanese are not entirely alone with this approach. VW is also thinking about virtual helpers for drivers and has developed the virtual passenger Carla for the Tiguan off-road vehicle. This so-called avatar is a digital and multimedia operating manual that is intended to bring the new navigation system closer to the driver in a quick, easy and entertaining way. In an interactive dialogue with the driver, Carla demonstrates every single operating step - supported by animated illustrations.

The Audi Mobile Device in the Metroproject quattro study shows how electronics can also be used in other ways to make it easier to operate a car. For the harbinger of the future A1 small car, the Audi developers have integrated the ignition key into an electronic magic box that also functions as a mobile phone, navigation system, MP3 player and portable video monitor.

Mercedes is also spinning the thread further: the Swabians were inspired by the virtual parallel world "Second Life" for the operating concept of the F700 research sedan. Just as everyone can program their alter ego there, the S-Class of the future will also have a so-called avatar that makes the most important infotainment settings. The driver no longer selects the radio station or the navigation destination. Instead, as in real life, he transmits this task to his secretary by voice command, who in the research limousine is only a digital dream. (Thomas Geiger / dpa)