Ford Developing Technology That Reacts To Calm Stressed Or Distracted Drivers

While it’s not the same as having a soothing chat with KITT the talking Trans-Am, the folks at Ford are working on technology that would not only recognize when drivers are distracted or in stressful situations but would also act to cut down on external factors in order to calm things down.

The Detroit News reports that the technology takes a two-pronged approach to measuring and detecting possible stress factors.

First, sensors in the steering wheel, driver’s seat and safety belt would track the driver’s heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature.

Then there is an algorithm that combines data from existing radar and cameras with the particular driver’s use of the accelerator, brakes and steering wheel. This factors in both the traffic in the immediate area and how the driver is reacting to it.

If all these sensors determine that a driver is stressed or distracted, the system could trigger a mode that quiets in-car noises and turns on a “do not disturb” setting for any phone attached to the MyFord Touch system.

Ford stresses that the technology is still in the research phase and has given no timeline for when it might make its way into the market.

Newest Ford technology senses distraction, stress [Detroit News]

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  1. redskull says:

    If it disintegrates the cars in front of me on the way to work, then count me in.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      I believe that would be the “road rage” technology that is being developed soon.

  2. The Beer Baron says:

    I understand early prototypes that included automatic beer dispensers were scrapped due to some sort of law that prohibits people from enjoying the calming effects of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle.

    I lost out on very lucrative contracts with that one. Curse the nattering nabobs of negativity that put limits on how I conduct my business! Curse them and this au pair state they’ve created!

    • Joedragon says:

      Otto: “Alcohol increases your ability to drive.”
      *checks the answer*
      “Aw man!”

    • wombats says:

      See the problem is that some people get too calm then, so you need to ensure that you have a needle in their seat with that extra pick-me-up they need.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      What about the Xanax aerosol fogger?

      • DemosCat says:

        How about something to calm down the passengers and leave the driver in peace, like a targeted Valium dart?

  3. Beave says:

    There’s a joke about autoerotic stress relief here, but someone funnier than I am is going to have to make it.

    • DemosCat says:

      I think if your car had some sort of extension popping out of the dash and going after your crotch like something from the Aliens movie — or worse, a teletubby… well, that’s not going to help my stress level.

  4. crispyduck13 says:

    Jesus Tap Dancing Christ. A car should be proficient at traveling long distances safely and without breaking down too often. Bonus points if it allows the drive to be fun/fast/open air. I do not need my car to give me a goddamn physical. I also don’t need it to break, park, or steer for me, if people can’t manage those things then they need to hire a driver or stay the hell home.

    • duncanblackthorne says:

      +1 on this.
      I don’t want any car I own to be recording personal information about me for any reason. I’ll be responsible to myself all on my own, thank you very much, I don’t need the damned car making decisions for me. They can keep this junk, and I won’t pay for it, either.

  5. Snapdragon says:

    Commas save lives! (i.e. what is ‘calm stressed’?) :-P

  6. vapidincarnate says:

    Whenever I drive, I wear my Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, which have been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble, they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    Naturally, the data results will be sold to insurance companies as a
    revenue enhancer which will then be used as a basis for rate increases.

  8. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Really? What is this world coming to? It wasn’t that long ago that cars got airbags and power windows!

    If you’re that nervous, upset, or distracted while driving that you need some sort of calming gizmo in your car, stay the hell off the road!

    OMG I’m really starting to feel like the old guys who yells at kids to get off his lawn. People, get a grip!

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I agree. If you need a car that parks itself
      then you have no business being on the road.

  9. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    So what about the opposite of calming down people who are obviously too “calmed down” for their own good?

    1) So you’re tense, nervous and all — the system detects it, and calms you down.
    2) So you’re calmed down, then you start nodding off.
    3) Another system triggers that will then alert you and wake you up.
    4) You jump awake, and your heartbeat races once more.
    5) Go back to #1.

    Several loops of this and I’ll feel like a lab rat. @_@

  10. BigDragon says:

    This system would have been kicking in on me last night. It seemed like every highway was completely blocked up and therefore all alternative roads were jammed too due to too many vehicles trying to avoid the highways. I think this might have made me mad at the vehicle though. I don’t want things quieting down or going to do not disturb. What I want is a way out of the problematic situation and more power.

    Would it kill some politician in Maryland to get serious about building a light rail or metro system that actually services the suburbs and major employment centers in the suburbs? I’m tired of being forced to drive or carpool on highways that haven’t been upgraded adequately for decades.

  11. PragmaticGuy says:

    From what I’ve read, Ford’s “Sync” system drives people crazy as it doesn’t work much of the time. So maybe they should start with that. Mercedes already has a system that checks for the driver’s alertness. If things keep going the way they are with all these devices I’m going to have to start calling my car, Mom.

    • erinpac says:

      I like my Sync system most of the time. There are days where it is really annoying though. I don’t understand how 70% of the time it recognizes even a long command and then it will randomly decide “Call Home” is “Set Navigation, Point of Interest, Movie Theaters” or “Set Climate Control, A/C, 62 Degrees”. When it is wrong, it is very, VERY wrong. There are also a couple of monosyllabic phone contact entries it likes to call on occasion when I am trying to play an album with a long album name.

  12. erinpac says:

    So… disabling phones and turning down the radio is supposed to stop people from being angry and stressed? That may not get the result they’re going for. I would imagine a lot would get angrier at the radio ‘not working right’ and such.