Last week, Honda Motor Co. (7267) displayed a self-driving car based on the new Accord Hybrid at the ITS World Congress. It performed at an outdoor demonstration at about 20kph. This week, Toyoda Mordor Co. (666) upped the ante by revealing it’s 100% driverless car, the HARU2001.*
“Nissan, Honda, everybody is designing a self-driving car. We thought, ‘Hey, what if we take out the human component altogether?’ And that’s how we came up with the HARU2001,” Toyoda Chief Operating Officer Nariyuki Amanojaku says.
The HARU2001 does not require a human driver to get to its destination. In fact, much like a drone, it can be completely controlled by remote–but unlike primitive US made drone planes, it does not require constant monitoring. A verbal command will allow the car to go wherever it is commanded to go with no one inside the car at all–making it perfect for book and pizza delivery and other services. Amazen Japan is already looking into buying several of the prototypes.
Dubbed “The World’s Safest Car”, it comes with a tremendous safety feature—for alcohol loving Japan— that will not allow an inebriated driver inside the car. The olfactory sensors built into the front and back doors can determine the alcohol blood level of the driver and deny him or her admission to the vehicle within seconds. A fail-safe setting can also detect when beer, chu-hi, or other alcoholic drinks have been opened in the car, thanks to the patented nano-olfo technology, and issue a warning. If the warning is ignored, the car will then eject the driver or passenger from the car, safely and swiftly.
In “super clean beautiful human life” mode the car will not allow in overly sweaty individuals or unbathed middle aged men who exude what is called kareishu (加齢臭) literally meaning “old man smell.” Toyoda expects this feature to be a big hit with Japanese females in their early twenties and thirties.
“By combining sentience and artificial intelligence with smart cars such as the HARU2001, we can solve the auto industry’s two major problems: bad drivers and traffic accidents. If the idiots can’t get in the car, they can’t have an accident or waste precious fossil fuels,” notes Mr. Amanojaku, pointing out the ecological benefits as well.
The company uses olfactory and movement analysis technology from its line of cyborg salarymen workers to help the vehicle recognize pedestrians and other obstacles in its path. The car’s computer system can check the positions of nearby individuals and the conditions of traffic lights and signage, applying the brakes to make sure that the impact only gently nudges the individuals ignoring the rules of the road, encouraging better pedestrian manners at the same time.
It is possible to put groceries in the car and using a smart phone application, have the car deliver them to one’s parents, family, or neglected spouse. Embedded voice recognition technology also means that one can simply demand the car go where it’s needed. A voice synthesizing program in the HARU2001 system allows the car to actually call up designated individuals when it arrives at the destination, and even impersonate the voice of its owner when it does.
CARS & TIRES magazine editor, Jeff Whiskey, was very impressed with the new model. “It’s pretty cool how the car can pretend to be you. It can totally imitate your voice and be like on the phone and say, ‘Hey, Mom–I brought you some flowers’. Because like my Mom never answers text messages. Then she just has to walk down the steps and get them from the car. It’s these little ‘human touches’ that make it such a revolutionary product.”
The HARU2001, also comes with a function that allows the car to use data from security cameras at a parking lot or a convenience store and greet friends or associates of the driver. It can even offer them a ride, or follow them around the area, providing a sense of security.
However, the car is not without its quirks. The experimental “self-determination” mode, which uses neo-sentience algorithms to power the car and let it roam around an area at random or explore places that the driver might like to visit and take pictures, has been buggy. “The car will sometimes refuse to go where it’s told once the mode is set in, and in one horrible case, it actually ran over the engineer who was overhauling the system. She complained about the smell of its faux leather seats and it lunged forward. Probably a voice recognition glitch. Fortunately, she was not seriously injured,” notes Toyoda Technoligy, who helped create the software that is the heart of the vehicle.
HARU2001 takes its name from the 80’s comedy film, Short Circuit, about a fun-loving robot that takes on a life of its own. The HARU2001USA model will be a joint production between Toyoda Mordor and the small high-tech automaker, Cyberdine Systems.
*This article is a parody. Just in case you didn’t already figure it out or were not in self-determination mode today.