Future Toyotas to Use Drivers Mood for Safety Systems

toyota-ns4-plug-in-main The days of having our personal Knight Rider are quickly approaching. Toyota is currently working on a mood detection system that will alter how the warning systems in its vehicles work.

While some vehicles are giving owners the ability to set their own ambient mood lighting, Toyota is hoping to develop the first auto-sensing system that will enhance safety. The technology will determine whether the driver is sad, happy, angry, or neutral and based on that it will alter how safety reminders are delivered via the vehicle’s warning systems.

“The current, basic research should be complete within two to three years, so some of the elements could start to be available in around six years time. For non-vital applications some basic things could be available earlier though,” said Toyota’s senior manager advanced technology Jonas Ambeck.

For example, if a driver is angry or sad, Toyota’s research believes they are less alert to hazards on the road. By determining the driver’s mood before hand, the vehicle would sound an alert sooner than if the driver was in a ‘neutral’ mood.

Currently the Japanese automaker’s prototype uses a camera to identify facial expressions to determine emotions based on 238 points on the driver’s face. Having a large number of detection points means the system will work even if someone has a beard or is wearing sun glasses.

Toyota has been developing the technology since 2006, but won’t give a dedicated time frame for when we will see it in our vehicles. Ambeck also said the technology could be used in conjunction with future smartphones to help save power by lighting up the satellite navigation only when the driver is looking at it.

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