New Driver Seat to Help Prevent Drunk Driving?

Though there are some in-vehicle systems that can measure the presence or absence of alcohol in the driver’s body, most have performance limitations, such as challenges with onboard cameras, especially those mounted on the outside of the vehicle.

But now the driver’s seat itself might take care of that measurement!  Researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, in Japan, have created a seat that can determine if a driver is drowsy or otherwise impaired.  Integrated into the seat are pressure- and heat-detecting sensors to measure body functions such as respiration and heart rate.

For example, if a driver leans to one side because they are falling asleep or impaired in some other way, the seat system detects this. And though how the vehicle is programmed to respond when a driver is determined to be impaired remains to be seen, just knowing the driver’s status should be a big step forward for safety.

Future applications might involve warning an impaired driver to pull off the road and stop driving, and automatically contacting emergency responders in the event of a driver-related problem.

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