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Penguinbot makes the perfect driving companion

Evan Blass
10.03.06
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It's always more fun driving with a buddy than cruising around alone, but since we lack what are referred to as "social skills," there aren't that many folks willing to ride shotgun in our car or hop on the handlebars of our Segway. Enter the robotic driving companion from Pioneer, a little penguin-shaped bot being shown off at CEATEC that perches on your dashboard and seems to act as a blinking, chirping second set of eyes on the road (or a backseat driver, if you will). Unfortunately -- due to garbled machine translation -- it's nearly impossible for us to discern all the features offered by this device, but we think that its embedded camera and image recognition software allow it to remind you when the light has changed, alert you if you're swerving ("Officer, I swear I'm not drunk -- see, my robot penguin hasn't chirped at me once"), or give you a heads-up when you pass a "point of interest" (such as a ferris wheel, helpfully suggests the Impress write-up). No word yet on pricing or availability for this lively road trip partner, nor is it clear whether sporting one qualifies you for the carpool lane. Keep reading to check out the unnamed bot "in action" (i.e. sitting motionless in front of a driving simulator), and then hit the read link for a few more snaps and short video...



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