At DashboardSymbols.com, we have consistently argued that the wholesale advancements taking place in the automotive world call for a complete overhaul of the way cars communicate with their drivers. Bells, whistles and flashing lights are dinosaurs due for the scrap heap. In particular, we’ve advocated for a natural language two way conversation between the driver and his or her vehicle rather than warning lights and buzzers.
We acknowledge the difficulties inherent in this. From hardware through software, this is not easy or cheap. So it came as a surprise when Toyota released a driving companion capable of natural communication – in the form of a toy.
Kirobo Mini is a 10cm high communication companion that can talk to you, gesture at you, and detect and respond to your emotions – a portable friend.
So, rather than using what is clearly very advanced form of artificial intelligence to help with driving, it will be there to keep you company. Toyota is blunt when it says “we could assimilate hours of data to better the everyday lives of drivers all over the world, informing future innovations and developing transport that’s in tune with the driver’s mood, suggesting places to visit, routes to travel and music to listen to.”
Marketing opportunities, pure and simple.
So, we will simply say fine, learn our behaviors. But Toyota, please remain vigilant for the moments your vehicles, and thus your drivers, cry for help. Let these moments inform another, more important opportunity for the Kirobo intelligence: communicating the actual status of a driver’s car to the driver in a manner that does indeed account for “developing transport that’s in tune with the driver’s mood.”
Edmunds noted at the end of its story on the product that “Watching Kirobo in action makes you think that an interactive conversation with your car is not out of the question.”