Jaguar Land Rover Launches Mind Reading Safety Technology

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed new road safety technology research projects they’re hoping will one day provide a sixth sense for drivers and help “reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who are stressed, distracted and not concentrating on the road ahead.”

Dubbed the “Sixth Sense” research project, a UK-based team utilizes advanced technology, from sports, medicine and aerospace, to monitor the driver’s heart rate, respiration and levels of brain activity to identify driver stress, fatigue and lack of concentration. At the same time, the team is studtying innovations that would reduce the amount of time the driver’s eyes are off the road whilst driving, and how to communicate with the driver via pulses and vibrations through the accelerator pedal.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover Director of Research and Technology, said, “We believe some of the technologies currently being used in aerospace and medicine could help improve road safety and enhance the driving experience. The car is becoming more intelligent and more able to utilise cutting-edge sensors. These research projects are investigating how we could exploit this for the benefit of our customers and other road users.

“One key piece of new research is to see how we could measure brainwaves to monitor if the driver is alert and concentrating on driving. Even if the eyes are on the road, a lack of concentration or a daydream will mean the driver isn’t paying attention to the driving task. They may miss a warning icon or sound, or be less aware of other road users so we are looking at how we could identify this and prevent it causing an accident.”

Mind Sense

Your brain knows when you are sleepy and your car might soon as well. Mind Sense research is studying if, “a car could effectively read the brainwaves that indicate a driver is beginning to daydream, or feeling sleepy, whilst driving.”

“If brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver’s awareness and re-engage them with driving,” added Dr Epple. “If Mind Sense does not detect a surge in brain activity following the car displaying a warning icon or sound, then it could display it again, or communicate with the driver in a different way, to ensure the driver is made aware of a potential hazard.”

The most common method for monitoring brainwaves is close to the source using sensors attached to a headband. Because that is not practical for drivers, Jaguar Land Rover is investigating a methods already used by NASA and the US bobsleigh team to enhance concentration and focus by using sensors embedded in the steering wheel.

Driver Wellness Monitoring

Are you in good health? You car may know sooner than your doctor. Jaguar Land Rover has adapted a medical-grade sensor originally developed for hospital use into the seat of a Jaguar XJ that detects vibrations from the driver’s heart beat and breathing.

“As we develop more autonomous driving technologies, there will be instances when the autonomous car needs to hand control back to the driver,” added Dr Epple. “To do this safely the car will need to know if the driver is alert and well enough to take over. So our research team is looking at the potential for a range of driver monitoring technologies to give the car enough information to support this decision. If the car detects severe health issues, or simply how alert the driver is, then the car could take steps to ensure the driver is focussed enough on the driving task to take over.”

Jaguar Land Rover notes that, “Monitoring the physical health of the driver could not only detect the onset of sudden and serious illness that may incapacitate the driver, but also allow the car to monitor driver stress levels. This would then allow the car to help reduce stress, for example by changing mood lighting, audio settings and climate control.”

Predictive Infotainment Screen with mid-air touch

Your eyes will spend less time looking at your infotainment screen in the future if the research done in the Jaguar Land Rover labs is successful.

The Predictive Infotainment Screen prototype uses cameras embedded in the car to track the driver’s hand movements and this enables the system to predict which button the driver intends to press. This allows successful button selection to take place in mid-air, allowing drivers to have less time with their hands off the wheel. In user trials this increases the speed of successful button selection by 22 per cent.

But, don’t worry, you’ll still feel the touch. The system could use tactile feedback via ultrasonics to let the driver know that their button selection has been successful.

Haptic Accelerator Pedal

Tactile feedback can also be used to communicate with the driver through the accelerator pedal to increase the speed of response and to ensure the correct action is taken, claims Jaguar Land Rover.

The company explains, “To create these sensations in the accelerator pedal, an actuator sits at the top of the pedal arm and allows for vibrations or pulses to be passed through to the foot of the driver. The technology also uses a torque motor which can create resistance in the pedal feel.

This resistance could be used to notify the driver that they are pushing the accelerator through a speed limit. Alternatively, if you were crawling along in traffic a timely warning through the accelerator could prevent you bumping into the car in front.”

Research is currently in the development phase with no information provided on when drivers can expect to see a version of the results of the research implemented in their vehicles.

image courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

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