An In-Car Personal Robot That Knows Your Route, Your Moods

December 12, 2009/Auto Sales Classifieds

MOTOR MATTERS DOWN THE ROAD BY HERB SHULDINER

AIDA — short for Affective Intelligent Driving Agent — is more than a navigation aid; AIDA is a personal robot that acts as a friendly driving companion. AIDA will get to know you — your driving habits, where you like to go — maybe even get to know your moods.
Volkswagen and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are testing the personal in-car robot. But it may be years before motorists can buy the Affective Intelligent Driving Agent to use in production cars.
AIDA is a driver’s companion that monitors your moods and driving preferences. It navigates, reminds you when your gas tank is low on fuel and even helps keep your car running properly. It will even empathize with your moods, if all goes according to the research and development plan.
Led by Professor Cynthia Breazeal of MIT’s Personal Robots Group, Professor Carlo Ratti, director of the university’s SENSEeable City Lab in Cambridge, Mass., and Mikey Siegel of Volkswagen Group of America’s Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, Calif., have created a smiley-faced robot that sits atop the car’s dashboard.
AIDA learns your driving preferences to guide you through traffic and keep you informed about your vehicle and surroundings.
“AIDA builds on our long experience in building sociable robots,” professor Breazeal says. “We are developing AIDA to read the driver’s mood from facial expressions and other cues and respond in a socially appropriate and informative way.” The goal is to create an “affective” bond between the driver and robot so both learn from each other.
AIDA’s memory is loaded with information of city events, commercial activities and tourist attractions, as well as environmental and traffic conditions. The robot also analyzes the driver’s patterns and keeps track of routes and destinations.
“Within a week, AIDA will have figured out your home and work location,” says Assaf Biderman, associate director of the SENSEable City Lab.

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“Soon afterward the system will be able to direct you to your preferred grocery store, suggesting a route that avoids things like a street fair-induced traffic jam,” Biderman says.
The robot could also provide feedback on your driving to help achieve better fuel economy and safer road habits. Many of these functions will be achieved with a system of capacitive sensors mated with electronics and computer interfaces MIT and the Volkswagen lab in California are developing says Giusy Di Lorenzo, post-doctoral fellow at the SENSEeable City Lab and leader of the AIDA project.
VW’s Siegel says the current generation robot is not intended to be installed in a moving vehicle. First it will be used in a driving simulator. He says Audi has a version of AIDA installed in a dash that will soon will be shipped to MIT where studies will be conducted in a driving simulator.
“A later version of the robot, modified (with) information gained from the studies, will eventually be installed in a drivable test vehicle,” Siegel says.
VW’s goal is to give AIDA the ability to provide useful and timely suggestions to the driver — in the process of developing a positive and trusting relationship. — Herb Shuldiner, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009

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