A newly unveiled prototype car from Sony and Honda, called “Afeela,” is set to employ facial recognition to unlock the vehicle and open its door.
The semiconductors and chipsets set to underpin this biometric tech will be provided by electronics giant Qualcomm.
The firms will start taking orders in 2025, with U.S. deliveries set to start in 2026.
Commenting on the move, Sony Honda Mobility President Izumi Kawanishi told Axios, that though the automotive industry has been “a very traditional business,” it is “growing up” by adopting products and software from the IT world.
Ford is yet another example of a major automaker that appears it could be getting into the action. In June, the auto giant filed a patent application for “enhanced biometric authorization,” which includes but is not limited to facial recognition.
Beyond just controlling access to the vehicle, the newly published patent filing covers technology where the user’s biometric data stored on the system can be updated automatically. This may potentially enable greater accuracy in the occurrence of changes like weight gain, aging, or other factors that can significantly impact appearance.
A similar patent application, filed and published by the USPTO around the same time, describes a method that would allow the vehicle to “maintain user data that corresponds to current user biometric data, which can reduce the likelihood that an authorized user will fail biometric authorization, or an unauthorized user will pass biometric authorization.”
California EV firm Mullen Automotive is yet another example of a company that is announcing facial recognition tools.
The firm is set to launch Persona, an AI vehicle technology, which among other use cases will enable users to lock and unlock vehicles with face biometrics.
Mullen also touts some of the potential commercial use cases of the tech, suggesting delivery drivers could automatically unlock their vehicle as they approach it after making the delivery.
**By William McCurdy