Enjoy The Ride: Vibrating Seat Could Enhance Driver Safety

You’re driving along, happy as can be, rocking out to some Journey, when suddenly, you feel a vibration against your body. Feels kinda good but oh no, wait, that’s a signal that there’s a car approaching on your left side so watch out and don’t get in an accident. Sound enticing — er, interesting? You’re in luck! Engineers at Yale are working on just such an invention.

As other carmakers have started to include various warning systems in their vehicles, from flashing mirrors to voices telling you pull over and get coffee, this seat vibration technology would physically alert drivers to impending danger.

By using vibrating motors and moveable cameras, Yale School of Engineering’s Associate Professor John Morrell tells Gizmag he thinks this new system will stand out in the crowd of overwhelming senors, alerts, beeps, whistles and other safety warning systems.

Preliminary testing “showed that the vibrotactile feedback improved drivers’ performance over that attained by using the rearview mirror alone” and also helped warn of vehicles.

Getting a massage while driving safely? Sounds good to me.

Vibrating driving seat warns of impending danger [Gizmag]


Edit Your Comment

  1. The Upright Man says:

    Part of me can’t help but think that all of these gizmos being included in cars these days is creating less of an incentive for people to actually learn how to properly operate a car and drive.

    • dreamfish says:

      More likely they are there is improve situational awareness which is quite an issue when driving, given all the different types and sources of information you have to deal with in real-time.

      Your comment would only be valid if it were some device that removed the autonomy of the driver.

      • tbax929 says:

        I disagree. I do think these technologies are making it easier for bad drivers to continue to be bad drivers. I’d rather they made it more difficult to get a drivers’ license and also require more testing to retain one.

    • evnmorlo says:

      In the future human drivers are obsolete (and indeed an obstacle to proper driving which the cars will only tolerate so long)

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      I agree.

      As someone who recently went car shopping… I think the problem has more to do with the layout of some of these driver’s seats. Other than some of the compact or sports cars, it was hard to find a car, SUV or wagon (worth hauling kids in) that didn’t feel like you were sitting on a couch, watching TV, rather than driving. I think that car manufacturers should think about shortening some of these massive dashboards, that make drives feel so separated from the road, so that they (will hopefully) actually pay attention to driving.

      • shepd says:

        The more things change, the more things stay the same. That’s how cars were 30 years ago… then econoboxes set the standard, and the Buicks and Lincolns of the world became the old folks cars. And once again, people want comfort. :-)

    • Draygonia says:

      Not to mention it makes drunk driving incredibly easy with blind spot detectors, backup cameras and ultra bright headlights that turn when your car turns.

      Top that with advance warning traffic lights and road markers, and things are cake.

    • sixseeds says:

      THIS. A thousand times this.

      Either design a car with AI or force the human operator to be its brain. Anything in between leads to half-assed driving corroded by the assumption that the car will warn/fix/compensate for driver incompetence.

  2. Trance says:

    I imagine getting used to these seats may prove dangerous.

    “What is that vibration?? That is so weird… what is that…. let me call my Dad, maybe it’s something wrong with my tires….. hey Dad, my car is vibrating…. What? that means there is danger approaching?”


    • kdui says:

      Nonsense; the kid would know exactly what’s going on! When the seat vibrates, the only logical conclusion is “Danger!” It’s like a rumble video game controller! :|

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Well, in that case, it means either you’re taking enemy fire (Call of Duty 4), you’ve just been hit by an offensive lineman (Madden), or you’re playing Mario Kart and have smashed into the racer next to you.

      • Bort says:

        will some PTSD kick in, and the op will duck and cover?

  3. Nyall says:

    I spent some time in Chennai, India. It was customary that when you passed someone you’d give a quick honk to let them know you were there.

    • oloranya says:

      Yes but here honking at someone means “hey idiot, get the fuck out of my way”, or “learn to drive, asshole”

      … or is that just in massachusetts?

      • Mr.DuckSauce says:

        I live in mass, and the people who thinks their lives are so important should crash since they are also on the phone while driving.

  4. TuxRug says:

    My seat vibrates a lot on the highway, especially when traffic’s light, because that’s when I turn up the bass on my music. I doubt I’d notice a buzz on my butt. I’d rather have a HUD or something. Anybody play Half-Life 2 or any other Source engine game? The edge of the screen turns red when an attack lands outside your field of vision. I’d like the left side of my windshield to flash red and make a beep. Just like in those games. That would alert me pretty effectively. Much more effective than my seat buzzing. If I did notice it, I’d probably think it was my phone or just bumps in the road.

    • Wyrenth says:

      Agreed. Some sort of visual proximity alert would make me feel more comfortable behind the wheel. Tactile feedback wouldn’t be as useful, as there are a lot of vibrations going on in a car already.

  5. sqeelar says:

    Adult diapers that vibrate just before an accident — now that’s technology that really is useful.

  6. Chipzilla says:

    Vibrating car seats?? Welcome to 2005. Citroen did it already: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/06/tactile_warnings/

  7. WraithSama says:

    I appreciate and thank you for the Journey reference. Journey is the classic cool. That is all.

  8. kelrod says:

    So, could this backfire and give women an… *ahem*… incentive to drive recklessly?

  9. MostNutsEver says:

    Are you telling me they are creating a Rumble Pak for real life?

  10. Crazytree says:

    The DoD is working on similar systems in jet pilot helmets which provide 3D audio which allow the pilot to have situational awareness without having to depend on visual cues.

    Several auto makers already have active collision avoidance systems in place which display blinking lights next to your side mirrors when a car is entering your blind spot. People want a smooth ride in their vehicles, and auto and tire makers have designed their products to provide as smooth a ride as possible. Nobody wants to have their seat vibrating all day. It’s a great project for academic purposes… but completely useless for all practical purposes.

  11. Geekybiker says:

    In future news- “Women drives sideswiping cars increases 10000% with release of new vibrating seats.”

  12. yensed says:

    Does this mean I can set my car on Vibrate like my Cell? I hate all those Beeps, Buzzes and Chimes my car makes to inform me it thinks I’m stupid..

  13. suez says:

    I live inside the Washington DC Beltway, where traffic congestion is second only to LA. With this technology, the more appropriate question would be, when would it STOP vibrating??

  14. pfepher says:

    I have said, for quite a few years, that cars have gotten too good. We are too isolated when we drive because because our cars are so insulated and cushy. This sounds like a good idea to me.

  15. t0ast says:

    “Preliminary testing “showed that the vibrotactile feedback improved drivers’ performance over that attained by using the rearview mirror alone” and also helped warn of vehicles.”

    Obvious statement is obvious. Of course if you’re using the “rearview mirror alone,” you aren’t going to see your blind spots.

    More weight and complexity to accomplish something which can already be taken care of with a fraction of a second’s glance to the left or right? No thanks. I’ll pass.

  16. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’d like a car that sends me a text whenever a car is approaching on my side. I’m already texting at the wheel, so this would be more convenient for me.

  17. jessjj347 says:

    If used over time, I wonder if people will ignore the vibration sort of like how a dinging noise to put on your seat belt gets ignored.

  18. c!tizen says:

    Yeah, that’s not going to get annoying… my seat vibrating every time there’s traffic around me. On the plus side I see a sharp decrease in road rage amount women drivers.

  19. gman863 says:

    Quit picking on women drivers! It’s MEN who will wreck havoc with a vibrating seat.

    BTW, the vibrating seat has been available for over 100 years – ask anyone who owns a Harley-Davidson.