In The Future, Your Car Will Know All About You

You may think that your GPS has a superior attitude now, but imagine if you could see its expression as you take a wrong turn for the seventh time. A new "driving companion" adds a little personality to your directions.

The Affective Intelligent Driving Agent, or AIDA for short, is the result of a collaboration between Audi and MIT to try and find a way to humanize the relationship between nagging automated systems and a frustrated driver... by adding a face to the nagging systems:

A laser projector the size of a deck of cards is mounted inside the head and projects colour graphics to create expressions on its "face". According to Mikey Siegel, part of a team at the MIT Media Lab collaborating with Audi to design AIDA, the versatile neck and face allow the robot to make a wide range of human-like gestures that can send subtle signals to the driver. A downturned face with pleading eyes, for example, indicates that AIDA is "worried" because the driver has failed to buckle the safety belt.

It's not only when seat belts are left unbuckled that it'll plead with you, however; the entire car will help it spy on you to know what mood you're in:

It uses sensors inside and outside the car to pick up clues about the driver's state of mind: grip strength and skin-conductivity sensors in the steering wheel, for example, tell the robot when the driver is tense. AIDA also uses GPS logs of a driver's travels to learn favourite locations and suggest better routes.

Yes, the future of GPS is part friendly robot, part driving-centric lie detector. And it's not just Audi who're working on this; according to New Scientist, both Nissan and Pioneer are already working on similar systems.

Robot driving companion brings emotion to navigation [New Scientist]