Toyota says that it wants its new autonomous automotive systems to be more like a buddy than a cyborg planning the demise of the human race. That may be a bit of a stretch, but we couldn’t resist! Toyota wants to program their new driver assistance system, called Guardian, to feel friendly and valuable instead of annoying.
Toyota and every other company working on increasingly complex driver assistance programs need to develop a system that can help us become better at driving while not being an annoying back seat driver that we loathe. If the system feels too intrusive, it can frustrate and distract drivers. If the system is too powerful or aggressive without reaching a useful level of full autonomy, drivers will stop paying attention to the road and lose control of their vehicles in dangerous situations.
The VP of Toyota’s autonomous driving division at the Toyota Research Institute said that their objective is to program Guardian to inform, warn, and intervene, basically like a chill driving instructor. He wants to build something that he can see his grandma being able to understand and use safely. This seems like an interesting tack, because a lot of people will have an inherent concern about the technology taking over the driving experience and, on the other hand, nobody really wants to have a bunch of drivers who are so overwhelmed that they aren’t focused on the road.
Guardian is supposed to work behind the scenes and jump in when there is no other option, basically like tapping someone in when you aren’t at your best and maybe even educate you in the process on what you should do in certain situations. The biggest challenge will be how to design something that will be easy, intuitive and deliver the information in a way that the driver can handle.