Car seats that detect when drivers are falling asleep


Car seats that warn drivers if they start to fall asleep at the wheel are being developed as part of a study by researchers at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University.

Professor Tilak Dias and William Hurley of the University’s Advanced Textile Research Group will be working with Plessey on a feasibility study to investigate how to integrate an electrocardiogram sensor system directly into the fabric of car seats in an effort to save lives. The research is being funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.

With driver fatigue a contributory factor in one in five motorway accidents, the aim is to embed a fabric-based sensor system within the car seat that can detect the heart signals that indicate a driver is losing alertness. The data would be used to send a warning to the driver to pull over.

Should the warning be ignored, the vehicle could engage systems such as active cruise control or lane departure technology to prevent accidents. The information could also be sent over a wireless network to a control centre to take further action.

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