Published June 29, 2012
Ford wants you to relax.
The automaker is developing technology that can predict a workload and autonomously adjust a car’s systems to reduce distractions during dangerous situations.
Using biometric sensors mounted in the steering wheel, seatbelt and the seat itself, the system will be able to monitor a driver’s heart rate, temperature and breathing rate and feed that data into a computer algorithm that can draw a picture of how much stress the person is facing at any given moment.
The system then combines that information with data collected from cameras and radars located around the car about current traffic conditions, along with speed, steering and throttle inputs to determine if a driver is about face a scenario that requires concentration, like merging onto a busy highway during rush hour.
Working with the biometric feedback, the computer can then change the way the car’s warning systems respond to give the overloaded driver earlier notice of potential dangers and even turn down the radio or enable a “do not disturb” function on the in-car phone system to help them focus on the task at hand.
Aside from the biometric sensors, much of the technology required to make the system work is already found on Ford’s production cars, including the semi-self-parking Focus, which already eases the pain of the most stressful things about driving a car.