2012 Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid concept

2012 Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid concept

We may soon be able to drive cars that will know if we’ve had a rough day or whether we’re about to fall asleep behind the wheel.

That’s the premise of new mood-sensing technology Toyota is working on in an effort to build safer cars.

We first brought you details on the technology back in 2006 but since then it has been built into a working model that can identify the emotional state of a driver and react if necessary.

Some of the actions the system can take include producing more safety reminders if the driver seems distracted or even directly controlling a vehicle either by braking or steering to avoid an obstacle.

An angry driver, for example, could be alerted of a potential hazard such as a child crossing the road much earlier than a driver who is in a calm or neutral state. Additionally, the system can detect which direction the driver is facing so could warn of a hazard located in the opposite direction that the driver is looking in.

The technology works by using sensors that take readings from 238 separate points all over the driver’s face and calculates the emotion from them all equally. This means that it will work even if a driver’s face is partially covered, such as when he or she is wearing sunglasses. The technology is even being enhanced so that it can recognize what a driver is doing, such as looking at their phone or controlling the radio, and then offer to help so that the driver can stay focused on the road.

Speaking with What Car?, one of the technology’s lead developers at Toyota, Jonas Ambeck, explained that the technology is still in its infancy though we could see some elements of it in Toyota’s cars in around six years.