The Solution to Distracted Driving: The Dash Robot

April 23rd, 2012

BYD's in-dash robot

Considering how many products the “Made in China” tag has been applied to in the United States, it’s amazing that cars have not been added to the list.

That won’t last, as rumors of a Chinese car company entering the U.S. market have circled for years. When it will actually happen remains unknown, but when it does, we could be in for a repeat of the Hyundai/Kia story that has unfolded over the last 25 years.

Would the first Chinese cars to arrive be as low-quality as the very first Hyundais were in 1986, or is it possible that the cars will impress with a quality no one expects?

Well, if the first Chinese car to come here has a talking robot that pops out of the dash, things could get interesting. Weird, but interesting.

As I glanced through the world of car news across the blog-o-sphere this weekend, I came across this headline on Yahoo!’s Motoramic blog:

Chinese car maker BYD to offer pop-up talking robot in dashboard

Max, the original dash robot

Why did that catch my attention? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. Automakers in the U.S. have been so busy thinking of confusing interfaces involving mysterious joysticks and touchscreens that perhaps they have overlooked the simplest idea of all:

A talking robot.

There isn’t much info on what, exactly, the robot will do, but the Yahoo! story says it

uses voice controls for Internet connections, music downloads, some vehicle controls and may even monitor for drowsy drivers through cameras in its face.

If it’s true, I’m even more convinced this is the way to go.

In addition to controlling the climate and audio controls, we should have robots program and recite our GPS directions, text for us, make our phone calls, heck, even apply our makeup and unwrap our Big Macs and feed them to us. Robots could be the answer to the driver-distraction problem that our bad habits and new in-car technology has created. A dash robot is a perfect fit for our lazy American-driver lifestyle.

Maybe the robot could even chat with us when we appear sleepy and tell us jokes along vast stretches of empty highway.

Remember the movie Flight of the Navigator? I’d want my robot like Max, but without his snarky little comments about Twinkies. I don’t need my Chinese car-robot judging me.

If, or when, a Chinese auto company brings a car to market here in the U.S., would you consider one if the price was right, dash robot or not?

-tgriffith

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  1. panayoti
    April 23rd, 2012 at 13:29 | #1

    TG if nothing else you have an incredible imagination. How do you dream these things up??

    Old People Against Distracted Driving (vbg)

  2. Randy
    April 23rd, 2012 at 06:28 | #2

    Good Grief, Chinese made products are the worst kind of rubbish sold here. You can expect screwdrivers that don’t drive, toasters that toast for about six months before self-destructing, and lawn furniture that falls apart under the heavy load of American buttocks. A Chinese car? A truly horrible thought.

    The answer to driving distraction isn’t robots, it’s getting the stuff OUT of cars. There’s absolutely no justifiable need for internet, downloads, elaborate entertainment systems and the like to be in cars. If anything needs to be added to cars, it’s jamming devices that prevent the use of cell phones inside the cabin.

  1. January 21st, 2014 at 04:00 | #1