The intelligent Internet of Things
The car will become yet another device as part of the Internet of Things. In other words, Alexa will help drivers connect to their smart home functions. On the school run and forgot to turn off the oven? No problem. Ask Alexa. Need to turn the lights off? Or on? Who you gonna call? Why, Alexa, of course, who may also use GPS to locate where you are and open the garage doors for your return...
The reverse is also true. While sitting at home with Amazon Echo you will be able to interact with your car. On a cold day you might want to start it up remotely to warm those seats and de-ice the windscreen. Or it may turn on by itself if you leave at the same time every day. Vehicle information is available 24/7. Is the petrol tank full? Is the battery charged? If you have Pirelli Connesso tyres, for example, your virtual assistant may warn you that the air pressure is low and, if necessary, book a visit from a mobile tyre replacement team. Or drive off to the garage by itself...
It’s not just Alexa who will be keeping an eye on things. Owners of Apple Cars will pass the time of day with Siri while those in vehicles using the Microsoft platform may engage the services of Cortana. In Honda’s new NeuV (as in New Electric Urban Vehicle) concept car, the calming character with whom you will start to share your life will be called Hana.
Hana – or the Honda Automated Network Assistant – takes AI to the next level. Instead of initiating actions according to predetermined parameters, this fusion of artificial intelligence, robotics and Big Data learns from the driver’s behaviour. An integral part of the NeuV concept car, it uses an “emotion engine” to assist the driver.
Computers and emotions are not normally synonymous. In this case Hana uses input from cameras and sensors that detect a driver’s “emotions” using facial-recognition software and then, based on the driver’s past decisions in similar situations, makes new choices and recommendations. Feel down in the dumps and Hana might select an upbeat tune on the sound system. A few yawns and Hana may order a click-and-collect coffee at the nearest service station or softly coo, “Sit back and relax, I’ll take over the driving from here...”
The NeuV is part of Honda’s so-called Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem. The grand vision is to create a future in which vehicles communicate with each other and also the infrastructure to avoid accidents and congestion. Honda’s “Safe Swarm” concept is analogous in its behaviour with that of a school of fish – and relies on bio-mimicry to help vehicles act co-operatively and hence protectively.