Guess what, your car is going to be your new bestie. Your vehicle will sense your heart rate, perspiration, voice tone, and mood, and then, using artificial intelligence, the car will react to make your ride better.  It might for example talk to you if you are sleepy or upset. It may offer to take over the driving, or suggest a stop for a snack or to meet up with friends who just texted you where they are.

Indeed, auto manufacturers at the annual CES technology show in Las Vegas signaled that they are working on an empathetic car to be your new best friend, similar to your mobile phone and computer.  Using data sensors, artificial intelligence and big data as tools, the car will be able to sense your moods, listen to your phone calls for new plans, update your calendar and your route on the fly, adjust your car seat and car temperature before you enter the vehicle, and given your mood, play your favorite music.

Toyota expects that these innovations may come to market by the year 2030.  Already autonomous vehicles that drive themselves are being tested on American roadways by players like Google, Tesla and Uber. This innovation follows successful automation of large drone airplanes, self-flying jumbo jets (with pilots standing by to take the helm), and technology that can stop a fast-moving train in an emergency. 

In 2016, the federal Department of Transportation proposed new regulations that require all new cars on the road to digitally talk to each other by 2020. This is called “vehicle-to-vehicle” communication and would allow cars to transmit location data back and forth to avoid colliding. So, be aware that your car of the future may drive itself, and may be talking to all the cars on the road, and you as well.

This is an example of how technology is permeating our modern lives. First technology made computers the workhorse of business and personal life. Then mobile phones became indispensable, as our personal assistants. Now, car manufacturers want to make your car equally technologically indispensable. Vehicles offer a very personal window into users’ lives, revealing location patterns, habits, shopping preferences, food preferences, and more. This level of intimacy comes at a price; auto manufacturers will know a lot about your personal preferences from car-generated data. Carmakers may be eager to develop new products and new services based on this data. 

Editorial Credit: Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock, Inc.

Editorial Credit: Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock, Inc.

Responding to consumer privacy group concerns, car manufacturers have released privacy protection principles that say they won’t collect data unless there is a legitimate business purpose, and that they will store it only as long as necessary. Also, the principles allow that consumers will have choices and also access to notices about the collection and use of their information. Given the personal data the car may collect as these new technology-laden vehicles are developed, we must stay alert to maintain our privacy.