The potential for cars to tune into their driver’s emotions is being explored by manufacturers, who believe a car which understands feelings could make driving safer.
Researchers hope to integrate bio-metric sensors into cars, allowing the vehicle to understand when a driver is tired or stressed. It could then issue prompts or alerts, or potentially take over the wheel in extreme circumstances.
Cars would be able to combine facial recognition technology with sensors tracking pulse, breathing rate and sweat.
Scientists at Ford are collaborating in an EU-funded project developing advanced driver-assistance systems to enable cars to better respond to drivers’ needs, by recognizing human emotional states rather than just physical road conditions.
Ford demonstrated an early-concept prototype, a customized Ford Focus RS, in London on Tuesday, which lit up according to the mood of its driver, who was wired up with fitness trackers and skin sensors. A computer then interpreted the bio-metric data to make thousands of LED lights in the side windows flicker along with the driver’s stress levels.
On a cold, wet day in Stratford’s Olympic Park, under the tuition of stunt driver Paul Swift, the Guardian put the emoting Focus through its paces: pedal to the floor and steering wheel locked hard left, with every bead of sweat illuminated in patterns on the windows.