Toyota reveals safety-focused next-gen DARV

Toyota DARV 1.5
23 Jul, 2014 1:20pm Jordan Bishop

Latest Driver Awareness Research Vehicle from Toyota has debuted in Colorado, targeting improved safety when using in-car tech

Toyota has again teamed up with tech-giants Microsoft and Infosys for the latest incarnation of its Driver Awareness Research Vehicle.

Dubbed DARV 1.5, this new concept car follows the original MPV-based DAR-V revealed at last year’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

The next-gen working prototype builds on that first test mule to help Toyota study how best to keep drivers focused on the road in an age of increasing on-board infotainment systems. It’s designed to prevent potentially hazardous distractions without sacrificing the benefits offered by sophisticated in-car tech. 

DARV 1.5 works like a tablet or smartphone

Like its predecessor, DARV 1.5 does this by using Microsoft’s Surface tablet and Kinect motion-sensing technologies, as well as custom-designed Infosys biometric software.

The concept works like a tablet, presenting an information menu on the side window when its owner approaches. Using smartphone-style gestures on the glass, drivers can then access things like route details, weather conditions, personal schedule updates and where best to stop for fuel. Once seated, these features are displayed on the Microsoft-sourced touchscreen display.

The Japanese manufacturer hopes such innovations will mean fewer issues need attention once underway. Aiding DARV 1.5’s attempts are new tools such as driver “lock-in”, which identifies who is at the wheel by tracking their body frame, automatically enabling or disabling certain functions depending on who is using the control panel.

DARV 1.5 gives drivers a safety score

Advances have apparently been made on the wearable device front, too, with an emphasis on how smart watches and similar kit might be used to control the car’s devices. Finally, the test car can also measure driver behaviour to produce a score based on how safely it has been used.

"Our society is on the cusp of a revolution in personal mobility. Slowly but surely, new technologies are changing how we think about automobiles and transportation," explained Osamu Nagata, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America.

"These technologies will help save lives, improve the environment, create jobs and help us maintain technical leadership in a field that is important contributor to economic growth."

As far as production models go, it's therefore hoped we'll see versions of this tech on sale in one form or another before the end of the decade, although an exact date has not yet been fixed. 

Previewed at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, Toyota also took the opportunity to stage a US debut for its production-ready Fuel Cell Sedan