Vol.2 How Electricity Drives Automobile Progress ‒ Part 2 Will the Car Become the Most Familiar "Partner Robot"?
The progress of robot technology in many areas is increasingly making headlines. At the same time, cars and various other products that sustain our daily lives are acquiring new functions and becoming more convenient through the introduction of robot technology.
What is the role of a robot?
I use the expression "robot technology," but in fact, there is no official definition of the word "robot." For the sake of convenience, I will borrow from the definition of an industrial robot, and say that a robot is "a machine controlled by a computer program and capable of automatically and autonomously performing specific processes in a continuous manner." Consequently, "robot technology" refers to the particular skills and techniques necessary for creating such a robot.
In other words, robot technology can be seen as encompassing the evolution from building "tools" which are an extension of the body that enable the performance of tasks not possible to the unaided human physique or that enhance the efficiency of work, to "agents" that can perform the work instead of humans. And consumer electric appliances and automobiles are the two areas where the move to the agent pattern is currently most in evidence.
Many of the new technologies that were adopted for the automobile in the past decade or so are related to robot technology. In concrete terms, more and more of the basic functions that are essential to driving a car, namely cognition, judgement, and operation, are being performed autonomously to compensate for possible human errors.
A good example is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a function noted for being increasingly incorporated even in compact and subcompact cars. With this function, which is also called collision prevention, the system detects a stationary or low-speed object in the vehicle's path and automatically applies the brakes to avoid hitting the object if the system determines that the driver is not braking or if the braking force is insufficient.