Before automobiles were invented and widely adopted, animals like horses were the most common mode of transportation. While this change brought significant improvements in terms of reliability and efficiency, it also removed a core component: the emotional relationship that existed between the person and the animal.

While largely ignored, the emotional states of drivers are quite important, as they influence not only driving behavior but also the safety of all road users. For instance, driving can be quite an emotionally stressful experience and, while certain amounts of stress help the driver to remain alert and attentive, too much or too little can negatively impact driving performance and safety. Furthermore, stress in large doses has been linked to a large array of adverse health conditions such as depression and various forms of cardiovascular disease.

The Emotion Navigation special interest group from the MIT Media Lab was consolidated in 2018 with the goal of stimulating research efforts at the intersection of Affective Computing and Automotive. Some of the main questions that help guide the research are the following:

What if current cars could sense relevant emotional states of drivers such as stress?

What if cars and drivers could modulate the interaction based on implicit emotional responses instead of explicit interactions?

What if cars could help drivers not only navigate to their final destination but also to their desired emotional state?

Research Areas


Exploring novel sensing technologies to provide comfortable and passive monitoring of physiological, behavioral and contextual information.


Using intelligent data analysis to better understand the role of emotions while driving and efficiently recognize them at an individual and at a group basis.


Developing multimodal actuating technologies to provide just-in-time and just-in-place interventions that enhance the driving experience and better support emotional wellbeing.


Javier Hernandez

Principal Investigator

Rosalind W. Picard

Co-Principal Investigator

Neska El Haouij

Postdoctoral Fellow

Nataliya Kosmyna

Postdoctoral Fellow

Vincent Chen

Ph.D. Candidate

Judith Amores

Ph.D. Candidate

Craig Ferguson

Software Developer

Jinmo Lee


Sebastian Zepf


Diego Muñoz

NTT Data Corporation




Contact Us

We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate and help support the research.
If you are interested in learning more or would like to collaborate, please send an e-mail to:
Javier Hernandez

Copyright 2018 - Affective Computing Group at MIT Media Lab