Drive a car that grabs control because of your emotions? NO THANKS

25-07-2017 |   |  By Paul Whytock

Would you like to drive a car that controls itself relative to your emotions and moods? Well semiconductor solutions specialists Renesas says it has created a development kit which enables cars to read the driver's emotions and then take control of the car based on the driver’s emotional state. Interesting.

Does this mean that if I’m in the mood for a spot of grand prix start-off at the traffic lights the car will turbo-charge me into the lead? I doubt it.

But apparently this dev kit can be used in conjunction with the company’s R-Car that exploits what Renesas calls an “emotion engine.” Before explaining what this emotion engine thing is lets just make it clear what the R-Car is. It is not a rally car. In fact it’s an SoC that integrates a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor. This works with the emotion engine. And here’s the Renesas explanation of what that is. According to the company it consists of two elements. The first is voice emotion recognition that performs an analysis of a voice signal. The second part is emotion generation technology that generates emotions for the device by forming a virtual hormone balance derived from various connected sensors. Then it makes it possible to perceive the speaker’s emotion by charting an emotion map as both a colour, for example, yellow for happiness and red for sadness, and as volume level from 1-10.

Does that make things clearer for you? Well it certainly didn’t for me.

Apparently part of this technological ability to delve into a drivers emotions was developed by the Cocoro SB Corporation which actually contributed the emotion engine part of the dev kit.

This can identify the driver’s mood by recognizing things such as confidence or uncertainty based on the driver’s speech. So does this mean that to enable the system to work the driver should be nattering on about his emotional state to his passenger or if they are on their own spend the journey incessantly talking to themselves? And what’s the possibility that such a system might pick up on the passengers emotion?

According to the press release information issued about this, the car’s response to the driver’s emotional state is displayed by a driver-concerning user interface in the Renesas R-Car SoC. Since it is possible for the car to understand the driver’s words and emotional state, it can provide the appropriate response that ensures optimal driver safety. As this technology is linked to artificial intelligence-based machine learning, it is possible for the car to learn from conversations with the driver, enabling it to transform into a system that is capable of providing the best response to the driver. Renesas plans to release the development kit later this year.

As a bit of an old-school driver who likes to be in control of his car I’m not sure I want my driving moods being interpreted by the cars electronic systems and then the control of vehicle speed and positioning being high-jacked from me.

In other words, when it comes to the traffic light grand prix I want to be the boss and not have the car recognize a smidge of quite normal human competitiveness and then put the brakes on me. Is the answer quite simply to keep quiet until I take the lead and then let out a triumphant roar. Interesting to know what the car’s reaction to that might be.


By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is European Editor for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over twenty years. Prior to entering journalism he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

Related articles