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D.A.R.V: Baby Steps Towards the Future

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On: Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 7:54AM | By: Karen Cook

D.A.R.V:  Baby Steps Towards the Future

Most car manufacturers are doing research to develop those futuristic cars that can drive themselves. We have a few already that monitor the road even while the driver is in control and they have the ability to take over in an emergency. Last week at the auto show in Los Angeles, Toyota gave us a step in between. It’s not a fully autonomous car but it does provide much more interaction than anything currently on the road. And it can interact with more than just the driver.

So, you have a busy day ahead. The kids didn’t want to eat their breakfasts and now they are grouchy because you made them. You head out the door to the car, grumpy kids in tow. As you approach your vehicle the driver’s window brings up a calendar with a schedule of your day along with the weather forecast, and it lets you know that your gas is low, providing a driving route that will allow you to drop off the kids at school, fill up, and still get to work on time. Your car also recognizes the children and begins a game with them to get them to buckle up without your interference.

With the Driver Awareness Research Vehicle this scenario is already possible. Toyota’s Research has shown that if this sort of information is provided before you start your vehicle, you tend to be more relaxed and, hence, less distracted while you drive. Which leads to fewer accidents and saves more lives. Your car also learns your patterns, can sense your mood changes, and decide how much control of the car you should have, and it remembers its interactions with you. Toyota believes that car and driver should have a trusting relationship and work as a team.

There has been no announcement on when this technology might make its way to car dealerships or how much it will cost. The idea is still in its early stages. There are a few bugs that still need some attention. One of those is that the information on the driver’s window is very personal and would be visible to others, say in a parking lot, which may not be ideal. There is also a question of how and if the system would work in snowy climates where the windows may be covered in ice. Still, all great ideas have to start somewhere and this is just another step toward having a traveling partner instead of just a “car”.

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