In two completely unrelated, yet similar plans, Toyota has hired some of the top brainiacs in the world. You would expect these brainiacs to dive deep into the mind of Toyota's best to figure out why the hell anyone would want a violin-playing robot. Instead, they'll be involved in two diametrically opposite but slightly tangentially related projects. In the first, Toyota and neuroscientists will research neurotechnology-based safety systems and the other project will team Toyota up with Ryuta Kawashima, the developer for Nintendo's Brain Age video game, to seek some new kinds of preventative crash systems for elderly drivers.
The first project is the biggie. The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, who goes by RIKEN for some reason, will be the ones putting the neurodocs to work inventing all kind of neurotechnology. This will be a 20-year project focusing on three specific areas.
The first area of study will be on neuro-driving, or how the brain acts as the driver is driving and reacting to all of the outside variables. Toyota and RIKEN are setting the stakes high with this one. They are aiming to completely eliminate accidents all together. It would seem that studying the mind in this manner would allow designers and engineers to completely change the build to better link the vehicles safety equipment with how the mind handles specific situations.
The project will also focus study on neuro-robotics, with the goal to likely create an entire orchestra of instrument-playing robots, and mind-health research, which will focus on the link because the brain, the nervous system and physical health. [Pink Tentacle]
In the second project, Kawashima will be working with Toyota to develop vehicles for older folks. These vehicles will include advanced systems that can determine whether a driver is being dangerous, erratic or "slow as balls" as I like to put it. The system would be able to recognize irrational acceleration and other commonalities found in all elderly hoons. [Gizmodo]