The Equilibrium Concept: A Car That Acts Like A Person

You love your car, but would you want it to be more human? One designer thinks so
Automotive designer Bob Romkes's vision for the Equilibrium concept is a car that uses artifical intelligence and other technologies to adapt to a driver's needs, and mimics the responses of a living being. Bob Romkes

Ask anyone who’s ever talked back to their GPS navigation system: Product developers are pretty good at using technology to humanize inanimate objects. But how would you like it if your car responded to your presence — lighting up with delight or panting like a pet dog? What if, more helpfully, it recognized your touch on the steering wheel, and queued up your favorite MP3s and set your seating position just the way you liked it?

Creepy or no? Either way, that’s the future envisioned in the Equilibrium (EQ), a concept car by Dutch designer Bob Romkes that uses artificial intelligence to simulate life and the personality of an individual. Imagine rows of faceless sedans parked at the mall suddenly springing to virtual life, each becoming a sort of Tamagotchi with a purpose.

Sure, some of Romkes’s ideas for the all-electric, artificial-intelligence-laden vehicle are far-fetched — or at least, have yet to be invented — like the exterior surface. Romke calls it “rubber metal,” and it’s made both flexible and rigid by the use of nanotechnology. The fictional material can also change from opaque to transparent, opening up the possibility for a car that can blush if embarrassed (fluid leak maybe?). The seats are envisioned to be covered with a polymer inner skin that’s dynamically formed into different shapes by electricity, to adapt to a driver’s body.

Other features of the electric-powered HQ are possible, though largely the domain of the experimental vehicles automakers trot out at motor shows, like a steering wheel with biometric sensors to detect the driver’s heartbeat. That might also come in handy if he or she dozes off behind the wheel.

Still, the most compelling vision put forth by Romkes’s HQ is that of using technology to make cars more reactive to who’s behind the wheel, both for convenience and safety’s sake. Whether or not we want them to be more like the companions they already are may be a different conversation.

[via Yanko Design]