Most in-car technology making the headlines revolves around automated driving, however, Ford’s latest development focuses on monitoring the driver’s health, with equipment that can tell if the driver is experiencing a heart attack – and bring the car to a safe stop if it senses that the driver is in trouble.
In recognition that the world’s driving population isn’t getting any younger, the American car giant has devised a seat that can monitor the driver’s heartbeat using electrocardiograph kit. Should the car seat compute that the driver is having a heart attack, it can take control, using automated braking and steering systems to bring the vehicle to a halt safely, reports the Independent.
The system works by using six electronic sensors in the seat to monitor the heart’s electrical pulses and ascertain if the heartbeat becomes irregular. Simultaneously, an in-car camera keeps track of the driver’s position in the seat and if they have slumped in the chair the car’s steering and braking systems take over. This system can also be programmed to make an SOS call from the driver’s phone.
The system could also be used to detect the symptoms of other conditions such as high blood pressure or electrolyte imbalances. This not only benefits the driver; but also could make the roads safer for all users.
Ford has developed this technology in attempt to maximise profits in an era when there is a rapidly increasingly number of well-heeled over-65s on the roads. The company hopes that this will appeal to those older motorists who want to keep driving for as long as possible once they’ve retired – and is aware that medical issues, such as heart attacks, are likely to become an increasingly significant cause of car crashes, as the driving population ages.
Talking about the prototype, Dr Achim Lindner from the Ford Research Centre, said: “The system could also be used to detect the symptoms of other conditions such as high blood pressure or electrolyte imbalances. This not only benefits the driver; but also could make the roads safer for all users.”
Ford hasn’t yet announced a launch date for this new technology, however, managing director of the Ford Research Centre, Pim van der Jagt has stated that it could be seen in cars in less than five years.