Infiniti, the luxury automotive brand from Japan, has announced the development of new technology aimed at reducing the dangers of driving while hungry.
The system will not only alert the driver of the need to stop for food but will also navigate the car to the nearest restaurant that suit's the driver's taste and pocket. To be called Gastronomi, it could become an option on the all new Infiniti M performance luxury saloon which goes on sale across Europe from September 2010.
Gastronomi employs three of Infiniti's current technologies: Connectiviti, Active Noise Control and Forest Air climate control. Active Noise Control donates one of its sensors mounted in the interior headlining and otherwise employed in monitoring road noise to detect the sounds of borborygmi - tummy rumbles. If a pre-determined volume of rumbling is heard, a knife and fork symbol flashes up on the Connectiviti information screen and the driver is asked whether they wish to divert for a pit-stop.
A selection of nearby restaurants can then be accessed from the Michelin Red Guide, already an integral part of Infiniti's Connectiviti infotainment system. Once a choice is selected, the HDD navigation system selects the quickest route and if a reservation is required, a telephone number is also given for the driver to connect to via Infiniti's standard Bluetooth telephone integration.
At this point, the Forest Air climate control system changes mode. The tropical borneol scent that is usually gently wafted throughout the cabin is replaced with the fragrance of truffle oil to ready the palette as the driver is navigated to their meal.
Gastronomi can be tailored further. There is a Fitness option which if selected first calculates the driver's ideal weight based on the memorised driving position. The driver is then asked to input their real weight and if it is higher than the theoretical weight, Gastronomi allows for louder tummy rumbles before suggesting a pit-stop. It also works in reverse if it considers the driver needs feeding up. Another, ahem, menu asks the driver to input their favoured cuisine and amount they want to pay for a meal and suggests restaurants accordingly from the Michelin Red Guide. Categories include Bistro, Gastropub, Flushed and On Expenses.
Infiniti's engineers have developed the technology after several years of research, and periods of starvation, in conjunction with the Narita Office for Subsistence and Health (NOSH) in Japan. The research showed the dangers of driving while hungry included reduced concentration brought on by daydreams about noodles as well as the risk of neck-strain, not to mention a frontal impact, while the driver looks into passing restaurants. The director of NOSH, I. Likecake-san, stopped between mouthfuls to say: "Gastronomi could be the most important development in [pauses to swallow] motoring since the cup holder [burps]. Is there any more rice?"
Infiniti's programme director for Gastronomi, Yumi Teppenyaki, was unfortunately out to lunch when asked for a comment.Published 1 April 2010