Artificial Intelligence

Toyota’s AI Assistant Wants To Be The Consumer’s Car Buddy

Toyota drivers are about to gain a new best friend in Yui, an onboard virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to do everything from talk to you to give you a back massage when you’re feeling stressed. Yui was unveiled at the CES in Las Vegas in January.

According to a news report in The Wall Street Journal, Yui can measure your mood, engage in personal chitchat and even offer to drive if it senses you’re sleepy or distracted. And while in autonomous driving mode, the seats recline and massage your back to slow your breathing and calm you down.

Toyota plans to start testing a car equipped with Yui on Japanese roads in 2020. Honda is also using the motor show to unveil a concept vehicle equipped with an AI system, dubbed Hana, which can read driver emotions and stress levels.

“If people think about AI, sometimes people are afraid of it, because it is super intelligent,” said a Honda spokeswoman. “We don’t want to make a type of Terminator,” she said, in reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Terminator.

However, some are skeptical about AI and its capabilities, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who warned that AI could be the cause of World War III.

“China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo,” he tweeted.

One immediate concern drivers might have with these assistants is the amount of personal information they want to access, as well as concerns about safety. Yui, for example, wants to monitor your social media posts to find out what you’re most interested in, as well as the news so it can potentially gauge your mood. (Did your favorite sports team lose a playoff game? Did your favorite TV show get cancelled?)

With all of the data it collects, the car can make educated guesses about what you are doing, said Toyota.

But even some at the car show expressed concerns over driving a car that is tracking and recording the driver’s every move.

“It’s very useful, but scary,” said one man in attendance.

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