Now your car can love you back.

Honda has announced that they are building a prototype car that will be able to “read” a driver’s emotions. While few technical details have been revealed, we know it will be an electric car called NeuV, which will include an “emotion engine.”

Honda and Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank partnered earlier this year to develop AI technology that would allow conversations between car and driver. But the NeuV goes beyond banter. Honda’s press release described its full potential:

Through this joint research project, Honda and SoftBank will strive to enable mobility products to utilize conversations with the driver, together with other information obtained from various sensors and cameras installed on the mobility product, both to perceive the emotions of the driver and to engage in dialogue with the driver based on the vehicle’s own emotions. Moreover, by letting mobility products “grow up” while sharing various experiences with their drivers, the project will strive to enable drivers to experience the feeling that their mobility product has become a good partner and thus form a stronger emotional attachment toward it.

What’s the trade value on a car that has already bonded to its first owner?

Cocoro SB, the Japanese AI company behind the Pepper robot is on board for the project as well (they are owned by SoftBank). Together, Coroco, SoftBank, and Honda will blend artificial intelligence, robotics and big data (all with their own ethical issues) to build a relationship between you and your car. No word yet on how it deals with road rage.

Is giving a vehicle emotions (or the ability to read your emotions) the best way forward for safety on the road? Does no one at Honda remember what happened when Lt Commander Data used his emotion chip those first few times?

Resources:

Press release: Honda to begin joint research project with Softbank in the area of artificial intelligence ― strengthening open innovations of AI technologies (Honda Worldwide, 2016)
This Honda concept car will have emotions of its own (Washington Post, 2016)
Honda teases its concept NeuV with ’emotion engine’ that could give cars personalities (Wired UK, 2016)
Honda says its newest concept car will be able to feel human emotions (Business Insider, 2016)