Japanese telecom SoftBank and automaker Honda have announced a unique partnership to develop technology that would allow future Honda vehicles to both talk to its drivers and read their emotions.
At an event in Tokyo on Thursday, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son invited attendees to imagine robots, with super intelligence, devoting themselves to humans. Taking it a step further, Son asked people to imagine a future in which cars themselves become supercomputers before vowing that Honda would be the first to adopt such technology.
As The Verge notes, the two will do this by using an array of in-car sensors and cameras to analyze a driver’s speech, engage them in conversation and even offer assistance or advice. It wouldn’t all be new technology, however, as Son said SoftBank’s robot, Pepper, would likely play some sort of role in the endeavor.
If you recall, SoftBank earlier this year said its new version of Pepper would be powered by Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy-playing supercomputer. But before Pepper shows up next to you in your Honda, it’ll be starting out as many young people do by working at a fast food joint.
Readers of a certain age are no doubt conjuring up comparisons to KITT, the name of David Hasselhoff’s 1982 Pontiac Trans Am in the original Knight Rider series. Fun fact – KITT was voiced by William Daniels, the actor that starred as teacher and mentor George Feeny in the ‘90s teen sitcom Boy Meets World.