Peugeot Developing Cars That Can Read Drivers’ Emotions

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PSA Peugeot Citroën may eventually sell cars that will attempt to cheer you up, wake you up, or calm you down depending on the mood it thinks you’re in. Working with researchers from EPFL’s Signal Processing Lab, the car manufacturer is developing a sensor that would sit behind the steering wheel of a car and read facial expressions. If it determined that the driver’s emotions are jeopardizing his or her safety, it could be programmed to take corrective actions, KurzweilAI reports.

Peugeot: System tracks anger, disgust, and fatigue

The system is still far from being installed in commercial vehicles. Right now researchers are only trying to track anger and disgust through facial expressions and fatigue from how open the driver’s eyes are, but even then the system doesn’t work perfectly. The problem is that people express emotions in very different ways, so initial algorithms have to be broad enough to capture the relevant details that vary from person to person, and then become precise enough that you would trust handing control of your car over to the AI. As machine learning improves, this will eventually be possible, but it sounds like we’re not there yet.

“Detecting fatigue could lead to launching energetic music or more aggressive lighting of the dashboard,” said researcher Thiran Jean-Philippe, suggesting a few possible applications. “In the context of semi-autonomous vehicles, it will be increasingly important for the car to be aware of the emotional state of the driver, in order to correctly decide which tasks have to be handled automatically by the car and which ones can be/have to be transferred back to the driver.”

Peugeot: Too much AI will only annoy drivers

Peugeot SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS:PEUGY) (EPA:UG) isn’t the only car company interested in such semi-automated features, like automatic braking before a collision and lane-keeping aids, but there may be a limit to what consumers will accept. A car that won’t let you drive because you look tired will likely have trouble selling, and a dashboard that nags you to slow down and focus won’t get very good word-of-mouth promotion.

And that’s assuming people aren’t simply bothered by the idea of an AI taking the wheel from them because it doesn’t like the way they look today.

As car manufacturers integrate more sophisticated AI into their cars to supplement drivers’ limited reaction times and skill, they will need to strike a balance of not being too intrusive or the entire concept could become too much of a bother to be popular.

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