IBM is developing software to 'ride shotgun', detecting when a driver is tired and reacting slowly. It will ask the driver questions, roll down the windows, switch radio stations or, in extreme cases, even spray the driver with water from a water pistol in the dashboard.
Figures suggest that around 30% of road traffic accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. The intelligent systems in IBM's Artificial Passenger detect lethargy using cameras to scan eye movements, timing reactions to questions, and speech patterns.
The program will also tell jokes and ask personal questions from a database stored behind the dashboard according to a report in New Scientist (July 18). To preserve a driver's sanity, AP has a volume control and on/off switch.
IBM says it is in talks with various car manufacturers, and AP could be in cars within three years.