Toyota is researching ways to keep the driver focused on the road without sacrificing any of the benefits offered by sophisticated on-board information systems. The Japan manufacturer is working with Microsoft and Infosys in a co-project named DARV 1.5, the latest generation of Toyota's Driver Awareness Research Vehicle.

DARV 1.5 is a fully functioning car that provides a working platform for studying the dynamics of driver distraction. A development of the original MPV-based DAR-V, it is equipped with Microsoft's Surface tablet and Kinect motion-sensing technologies and custom-designed Infosys biometric software to help everyone on board and the car itself to work together as a team to achieve safer driving.

Some of the new features include a driver "lock-in" function that identifies who is behind the steering wheel by tracking body frame, and automatically enabling or disabling control features according to the user. Advances have also been made in determining how wearable devices, such as smart watches, might be used to control vehicle functions. As a working car, DARV 1.5 can also measure driver behaviour and produce a "score" based on safe driving choices.

"Our society is on the cusp of a revolution in personal mobility. Slowly but surely, new technologies are changing how we think about automobiles and transportation, from intelligent automated systems that team up with drivers to improve safety, to zero-emissions vehicles that emit nothing but water vapour.", commented Osamu Nagata, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America.

"These technologies will help save lives, improve the environment, create jobs and help us maintain technical leadership in a field that is an important contributor to economic growth.", he finished.

Source: Toyota