Last week we introduced you to AIDA (the Affective Intelligent Driving Agent)--get used to her if you can. MIT and Audi are hoping that this robot, or one that looks even more like Pixar's EVE, may be gracing your car's dashboard to help you drive in the near future.
The tiny robot's something like an advanced GPS system-cum-integrated car computer, designed to keep your mind mainly on the road ahead rather than on distractions. AIDA will apparently direct you to your destination, and quickly learn your favorite routes and locations. It'll then suggest detours, based on real-world traffic conditions or optimal routes to suggested alternative destinations--such as a shopping center if you've shopped at that particular time before. She'll also remind you to buckle up, sense if you're stressed (from a galvanic skin response measurement)
At least the designers chose to give the thing a face that's not too far off the attractive Apple-esque cuteness of Eve from Wall-E, rather than the blank countenance of a Cyberman, the scary extermination-threatening prong of a Dalek or (perhaps disappointingly) the cutesy plastic body of a Fembot.
The question does remain though, of the device's personality. Clearly it's a system with a degree of AI, and how it expresses itself is going to be very important in terms of how effective a driving aid it is. At all costs it should avoid the Genuine People Personality of Marvin the Paranoid Android ("Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they've welded me to a dashboard"), the whiny nasal sarcasm of K.I.T.T. ("Are you sure you want to turn down that road?"), or the dumb but chummy nature of Buck Roger's Tweaky. Getting the personality of AIDA right is going to be vital--a balance of friendly and helpful, without nagging sounds about right. Otherwise, robot or not, AIDA's going to be just as irritating as the overly-critical flash and blood right-seat driver that may be familiar to you.