Toyota to begin testing Guardian Angel—an invisible driving companion that could save your life

It may sound like something from an anime about a magical harem, but “Guardian Angel” is in fact here to make sure you don’t do anything stupid on the road…

While tech enthusiasts the world over watch impatiently as major car companies race to get their autonomous vehicles on the road, Toyota is taking a slightly different route. Instead of building a completely self-driving car that carries its owner from A to B, the Japanese motor company’s aim is to create a car that has an invisible co-pilot, or a “Guardian Angel”, that will take control of the vehicle only in dangerous situations.

Yes, just like your freaked-out driving instructor, this technology will make its presence felt only to prevent an accident, taking control of the steering, brakes, and accelerator if the driver does something dangerous or fails to react to something on the road.

The specifics have yet to be announced, but this certainly sounds — at least to us — like the kind of technology that today’s drivers might be more willing to embrace than simply letting Google do 100% of the driving.

Development is just now beginning on the Guardian Angel at the most high-tech driving simulator in the world, which is located at the base of Mt Fuji. The simulation facility offers an extremely realistic driving environment with which they can safely test their Guardian Angel system as well as other driver-related impairments such as drowsiness and inebriation.

The state-of-the-art simulator consists of a 360-degree dome screen with a full car mounted on a platform that moves and shifts according to the on-screen images. The effect is so well implemented that the drivers really feel like they are driving a car around.

As awesome as a Guardian Angel system sounds, the Mt Fuji driving simulator actually seems even cooler — the sheer number of studies they can conduct on driving should really advance our understanding of how people drive in different situations. Although for now, we’re willing to bet some Toyota employees are going to take the simulator for a badass spin late at night!

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