Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 13th March 2018

Sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but manufacturers are currently exploring the potential for a car to detect a person’s feeling and emotions. Recently a team of researchers and scientists at the technology company Sensum, in Belfast, teamed up with Ford’s own team to develop a customised Ford Focus RS.

The EU-funded project incorporates state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology in order to effectively respond to the needs of the driver – instantly recognising changes in human emotional states.

But will this revolutionary technology really help enhance the driver-state and make the roads a safer place?   

What Can The Current Tech Do?    

The experimental vehicle aims to read emotions, and then display them on the vehicle. Within the Focus RS, a driver would be wired up with trackers and sensors to monitor skin response and heart rate.

A computer then interprets data from the integrated biometric sensors, which in turn causes the car’s LED lights to flicker, according to the mood or stress levels of the driver.

For example, If the driver was to perform a particularly extreme manoeuvre that causes them to shift in their seat and make contact with the internal circuitry, this will cause the car’s lights to flash white – indicating a peak moment of emotional activity.

It’s also able to detect if their heart rate is elevated, and measure an increase in the electrical properties or galvanic response of the skin.  

Future Potential

This current souped-up Ford car is maybe just the beginning…

Many motor manufacturers are recognising the potential future benefits of this exciting emerging market – with many developers trying to figure out how to humanise the technology. Scientists are creating comprehensive algorithms and tech that can predict a driver’s tiredness, if they’re nervous, angry or distracted.    

They are looking at unobtrusive ways that the car could read the relevant data from a driver, therefore eliminating the current need to use wearable sensor tech.

Ways such as built-in facial recognition cameras that could monitor yawning or the closing of eyes – as well as breathing and heartbeat detectors that could all issue alerts to prevent an accident.  

There’s also the possibility that facial recognition technology could combine with sensors that track a person’s pulse, sweat and breathing rate.

Progress To Autonomous Safety

These advancements in driver-assistance systems could be combined with the future of  self-driving cars. An autonomous vehicle that knows exactly how a person is feeling, could ease stress and help reassure any passenger during the journey.

Being able to detect these often subtle signs of a driver’s emotional state, rather than just physical road conditions – along with the ability to transfer that information to other cars, will undoubtedly reduce accidents and improve road safety.

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