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Toyota Patents Nanny Software That Restricts Vehicle Features For Inexperienced Drivers

Autonomous Lexus

Toyota’s latest patent introduces a doting AI to keep inexperienced drivers from killing themselves.

For almost as long as there have been cars, there have been driving programs designed to teach people how to drive. Instructors were always humans (at least, we’re pretty sure they were always humans) who taught their charges the basics of automotive motion, like where all the pedals are, the rules of the road, and how to parallel park without killing a dozen pedestrians and scraping your rear bumper.

Now, it seems like the days of human instruction may be coming to an end. Toyota has recently patented a new artificial intelligence system that would evaluate a person’s driving prowess and take control of the wheel if it detects the driver isn’t capable of safely navigating in their current situation.

AutoGuide’s patent sleuths uncovered the proposed system at the USPTO as submitted by the Toyota Research Institute in California. It suggests that if we’ve already figured out this whole “self-driving car” thing, then we can also create a system where the car takes over driving when the driver finds themselves out of their depth.

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The AI would basically compare what the driver is doing to a theoretically “perfect” AI-driven car. The driver would then be assigned a score that would determine how much actual driving they can perform. If the driver’s score is too low, then certain driving functions would be restricted and the AI would take over.

via Lexus

So a poor driver might suddenly find themselves locked out if driving in the rain, snow, on the highway, or in heavy traffic. A speed limit could also be imposed to prevent speeding or to have the AI take over once the car is detected to enter an area where the speed limit is over the AI-imposed restriction.

This all sounds fine and dandy if you’re a new driver, and it might also be a good idea for elderly drivers who think they can still drive but actually can’t. However, it does beg the question of why even bother? If a car can drive itself, what incentive does the human have to learn how to drive?

Answer that one, Toyota.

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