Do you know that no road is straight but rather built with a slight curve? Yes, that is true but do you know why is it done? That is because if the road is curved, the driver has to keep steering the vehicle and doesn’t fall asleep. However, there are still cases where drivers do fall asleep and horrible accidents follow. This is where the research team at the Nottingham Trent University comes in, which is working on a solution to this scenario where the driver puts his/her life along with the life of many others at risk.
The idea that this research team has proposed and is working on is simple; monitor the driver’s heart rate and alert the driver if he/she begins to doze off. They plan on making this happen by incorporating sensors into the car seats. A UK company, Plessey Semiconductors, is collaborating with the university on this project and has been successful in making use of capacitive sensors that were mounted on a driver’s seat and were able to measure and relay the cardiac signals of the driver.
However, the system needs to flat, like really flat, and unobtrusive and the researchers are in face suggesting to make use of a textile that will have the sensors embedded into it rather than affixing devices onto the existing car seats. The team has already come up with a prototype, however, in words of the team; ‘We still need to improve the consistency and reliability of the data so that it can be used for the intended purpose.’ In short, the data collection and data analyzing needs to be worked upon further to make the process seamless and work without error.
Now many of you will think of the question that what will a mere warning do? The driver may still opt to carry on driving and ignore the alerts. Well, folks, we do live in a technology era and if the driver chooses to ignore the alert, the system will engage the cruise control and lane departure systems. Who knows they might also add smart brakes to the system in order to make sure that the driver is forced to pull over and not drive while being sleepy.
The project has already received a funding of $151,046 from the Technology Strategy Board and we have our fingers crossed to see how this works out. There is no time frame, announced, as to when this will be commercialized or used in automobiles but we sure are looking forward to see that happening.