By Claire Bates
Driving could soon be a far more pleasant experience thanks to a personal in-car robot being developed by researchers.
The Affective Intelligent Driving Agent (AIDA) will be able to tell you the best route home based on traffic reports, remind you to pick up petrol and suggest places you may like to visit.
The robot, which sits on the dashboard, is being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with Volkswagen.
Aida communicates with the driver through an expressive robot screen and will even appear sympathetic if you’re having a bad day.
Cynthia Breazeal, director of MIT’s Personal Robots Group, said: ‘We are developing Aida to read the driver’s mood from facial expression and other cues and respond in a socially appropriate and informative way.’
Aida works by analysing the driver’s mobility patterns, keeping track of common routes and destinations.
The creators say the robot should be able to work out home and work locations within a week of driving. Soon afterwards, the system will direct the driver to their preferred supermarket, suggesting a route that avoids traffic-clogged roads. Aida might recommend a petrol stop en route if the fuel tank is nearly empty.
The robot will also incorporate real-time information about traffic jams, the weather report, commercial activity, tourist attractions, and residential areas.
‘Aida embodies a new effort to make sense of these great amounts of data, harnessing our personal electronic devices as tools for behavioral support,’ said Professor Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab.
‘In developing Aida we asked ourselves how we could design a system that would offer the same kind of guidance as an informed and friendly companion.’
‘Aida can also give you feedback on your driving, helping you achieve more energy efficiency and safer behavior,’ Assaf Biderman from SENSEable City Lab added.
Over time, the project envisions a kind of symbiotic relationship developing between the driver and Aida, where both parties learn from each other and establish an affective bond.
The project is a collaboration between the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and the Volkswagen Group of America’s Electronics Research Lab.