Robots taking over role of backseat driver

Meet AIDA, the Affective Intelligent Driving Assistant. This is a prototype robot that utilizes sensors inside and outside the car to create “a platform comprising of a personal robot and an intelligent navigation system that aims to bring an innovative driving experience.” I don’t own an automobile, so practically every driving experience is innovative to me right now! Rather than traditional destination-oriented GPS navigation, AIDA posits “a navigation system that mimics the friendly expertise of a driving companion who is familiar with both the driver and the city.” Hopefully AIDA won’t complain about my driving the way all my friends do.

“Instead of focusing solely on determining routes to a specified waypoint, our system utilizes analysis of driver behavior in order to identify the set of goals the driver would like to achieve.” That is innovative, and as the video above indicates, AIDA can work to help you efficiently navigate your home city. It still looks suspiciously destination-oriented, and I wonder how much our continued reliance on navigation products is going to make us miss out of serendipitous discoveries, like the mom-and-pop movie theater nearby is showing your favorite B movie, or a big multi-family yard sale is taking place this Saturday. The more we rely on technology to get us where we’re going, the less likely we are to see what’s going on nearby.

AIDA is a product of the MIT SENSElab, the MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, and the Volkswagen Group of America’s Electronics Research Lab. The full press release is available.