In the modern world where multitasking has become a necessity rather than a choice, Nissan Motor, in collaboration with baby-product manufacturer Akachan Honpo, introduces a novel solution to a common problem faced by parent-drivers: managing the well-being of their children while on the road. The innovative solution comes in the form of Iruyo, a pair of smart, furry robots designed to interact with and babysit children, allowing parents to focus on driving.
The Iruyo robots are a tandem of stuffed toy robots, each serving a unique purpose. The larger of the two is intended to accompany the children in the backseat, engaging them in playful activities such as peek-a-boo, while its smaller counterpart is placed on the dashboard or in front of the parent-driver. This setup is powered by Nissan’s advanced sensing technology, enabling the robots to monitor both the children and the parents to ensure a safe and peaceful drive.
How Iruyo robots enhance the driving experience for parents
The interaction begins when the parent uses specific signal words, prompting the dashboard robot to activate its companion in the backseat. This triggers a series of actions from the larger Iruyo, including playing, singing, and even comforting gestures like waving its hands in the air. The robots are equipped with cameras that allow them to read the facial expressions of both the parents and children, facilitating a form of two-way communication. When the children fall asleep, the robot in the back sends a signal to the dashboard robot, which then closes its eyes, signaling to the parent that the children are resting peacefully.
The effectiveness of Nissan’s furry companions
The development of Iruyo was informed by a joint survey conducted by Nissan and Akachan Honpo, which highlighted the challenges faced by parents driving with their children. The survey revealed that a significant portion of parents in Japan often drive alone with their children and find it difficult to attend to them while driving. This challenge is further compounded for babies under 15 months old, whose rear-facing seats prevent them from seeing their parents.
The effectiveness of the Iruyo robots was tested through a demonstration experiment conducted in collaboration with the Kitasato University Faculty of Health Sciences. The results were promising, with 90 percent of babies showing prolonged attention to the robots and a noticeable improvement in their emotional state. This indicates the potential of the Iruyo robots to significantly ease the stress of driving with young children.
The role of color in attracting children’s attention
The choice of color for the Iruyo robots was strategic, with red being selected for its ability to capture and hold the attention of children. This choice was based on the advice of Associate Professor Takushi Kawamorita of Kitasato University. The inclusion of softer shades like pink and vanilla was intended to make the robots more appealing while maintaining their attention-grabbing capacity.
Availability and future plans
As of now, the Iruyo robots remain a concept model, with Nissan and Akachan Honpo continuing to refine the technology through public trial sessions. The feedback from these sessions, such as those scheduled at the Akachan Honpo LaLaport Yokohama Store, will be crucial for further developments. Though pricing and commercial availability details are yet to be announced, the ongoing trials are a step towards potentially bringing this innovative solution to the market.
The introduction of the Iruyo robots by Nissan and Akachan Honpo represents a significant leap forward in addressing the needs of parent-drivers. By leveraging advanced technology to ensure the safety and comfort of children, Nissan is paving the way for a future where driving with young ones can be a less stressful and more enjoyable experience for parents.
Source: Nissan and Akachan Honpo (Japanese)