Toyota to bring us a 'guardian angel'
Toyota are in the middle of developing a co-pilot for their cars, which they're dubbing the "Guardian Angel," which will help human drivers by taking the wheel to stop crashes from happening. Now, given that Toyota have had numerous problems with seatbelts and airbags, you'll be forgiven for being a little wary.
Of course, self-driving cars are a big-deal at the moment, with a number of companies like Google and Apple looking into the area. A driverless Google car had a prang recently, so the cars are clearly not ready for the roads yet.
Autonomous vehicles are a hot topic, and Toyota are doing something a little different. They don't want to replace the driver, but rather, help them as a co-pilot, should the driver find themselves in any difficulty. In theory, a good idea. In practice, there's the potential for a lot of complications - what happens if the car takes over and actively causes an accident? How are you going to explain that to the insurance?
"In the same way that antilock braking and emergency braking work, there is a virtual driver that is trying to make sure you don't have an accident by temporarily taking control from you," says Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).
Of course, this isn't a wholly new idea - antilock brakes and traction control are already a feature in a number of cars, which adjust a motorist's driving behaviour. Automatic braking looks like it'll be standard in all new cars by 2022.
Taking it up a notch, it seems like Toyota's Guardian Angel will not just bring your vehicle to a halt, but also make your car accelerate, swerve or manoeuvre around an obstacle, depending on the fix you find yourself in. There's going to be a lot of bugs to iron out in the meantime, clearly.
Does this sound like the kind of thing you'd like to see in a car you buy?