A driverless car that can read how you feel and adjust the environment through all five senses is being unveiled by Kia at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) System used by Kia optimises and personalises vehicle cabin space by analysing the passenger’s emotional state, using sensors to read facial expressions, heart rate and electrodermal activity.

The system then customises the interior environment according to its analysis, changing conditions that create better sensory comfort.

AI deep learning technology lets the system form a baseline in the user’s behaviour, it then identifies patterns and trends to inform the analysis.

Driver and vehicle communicate “through the unspoken language of ‘feeling’”

Hyundai Motor Group president and head of research and development Albert Biermann said: “Kia considers the interactive cabin a focal point for future mobility, and the R.E.A.D. System represents a convergence of cutting-edge vehicle control technology and AI-based emotional intelligence.

“The system enables continuous communication between driver and vehicle through the unspoken language of ‘feeling’, thereby providing an optimal, human-sense oriented space for the driver in real-time.”

Gesture control tech and vibrating seats

V-Touch, a virtual touch-type gesture control technology, is another world-first to be revealed alongside R.E.A.D.

It uses a 3D camera to monitor the user’s eyes and fingertip so that passengers can manage several in-car features through simple finger gestures, including changes to cabin environment such as lighting, HVAC and entertainment.

Another new sensory feature from Kia is its music-response vibration seats, where occupants can feel the music as well as hear it.

The signal processing technology adapts seat vibrations according to sound frequencies from the music.

The seats can also massage and give haptic warnings from the car’s advanced driver-assist systems.

Three prototype tiers in R.E.A.D.

R.E.A.D. Me is a one-person cockpit, which analyses the driver’s emotional state and creates a space-mood, and includes bespoke sounds and fragrances to suit their disposition.

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R.E.A.D. Now is a two-person cockpit that simulates a Las Vegas autonomous tour car, making suggestions for choice of route and in-car entertainment, and providing V-Touch to control the environment.

R.E.A.D. Motion is a four-person cockpit that provides V-Touch and the ability to take over the cockpit controls at a distance.

Kia’s smart-city mobility solution

Kia also has a new concept in smart-city mobility called ‘SEED Car’, a four-wheel electric cycle with a 100km range based on a pedal-electric hybrid system.

It uses pedal input from the driver together with a high degree of electrically-powered assistance to make it effortless.

Kia’s ‘BIRD Car’ houses the SEED Car on longer journeys, it is an autonomous shuttle that travels further than the four-wheel cycle’s capability.

Once within 100km of its urban destination the SEED Car is ‘dispersed’ from the BIRD to complete the journey.