In 1982, NBC introduced the world to Michael Knight, the fictional high-tech crime fighter played by David Hasselhoff and assisted by KITT, an artificially intelligent, self-aware car that the driver could have full-blown conversations with.
Now, 35 years on, it would appear we are finally getting the talking smart car fans have been crying out for decades and it’s all thanks to Toyota.
The Japanese motoring giant has just unveiled its most innovative concept car yet: a car that can read the emotions of the driver, chat with them and, if necessary, take over the controls.
Artificial intelligence is going to be a big deal in the future for Toyota, who seem intent on having us all driving our own versions of KITT in the near future – minus the dulcet tones of actor William Daniels, the man who voiced the car on the show and went on to star as firm-but-fair teacher and neighbour Mr. George Feeny on Boy Meets World.
Toyota look set to unveil a whole range of battery powered Concept-I vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show, including the smaller Concept-I RIDE, a smaller car that’s suitable for people with limited mobility.
The Concept-I WALK will also be presented to the public and has bee designed for safe use on pavements among fellow pedestrians.
All three vehicles will utilise AI technology to help the cars “understand their drivers, allowing people and cars to become partners who can learn and develop with each other”
Utilising cameras built into the car’s interior, the vehicles will be able to gauge a driver’s alertness and emotional state, assessing their expressions, actions and even tone of voice.
If the car deems the driver to be in a dangerous or stressed state, it can even take over control of the car. There’s a fun element to proceedings too – drivers will be able to have conversations with their car which be designed to boost mood and help the owner maintain a positive state of mind.
Still no word on whether the car will boast the same molecular bonded shell or turbo boost KITT had. It’s not looking likely though.