New Cars Could Measure Tired and Stressed Drivers

John Lister's picture

Ford is working on a car that can sense the driver's mood. For now it's a marketing tool, but the company says it could make new safety features possible.

The company is working with tech firm Sensum on what is something of a gimmick to promote sports cars, but could theoretically be used to tell when a driver is stressed or distracted.

In the test versions at least, the driver needs to wear fitness trackers (similar to the watches or wristbands people use to track their daily steps and heart rate) and skin sensors, which can measure changes in breathing rate and even perspiration from stress.

In the initial testing of the technology, the companies concentrated on statistics they produced that suggested a driver gets more "buzz" moments of heightened adrenaline in a car than watching an exciting television show or sports event. (Source:

Car Changes Color To Show Driver Mood

To show off the technology, the companies designed a special model of car that has external LED lighting which can change color and brightness in line with the driver's stress levels.

In the long run, Ford wants to take the same concept and use it for driver safety. This could include spotting a stressed or tired driver and issuing visual or audible alerts to refocus their attention.

The technology could also be used in cars with automated or self-driving modes. In extreme circumstances, the mode could kick in and take momentary control of the car while waiting for the driver to become fully responsive.

In-Car Camera Could Spot Drooping Eyelids

Ford also suggested that if a car detects a driver is stressed or tired, it could wirelessly transmit a warning to other self driving cars, which could then leave a larger space to mitigate the risk that the driver might have slower reaction times than usual. (Source:

The company does concede that the skin sensors wouldn't be practical for real world driving. It suggests one approach would be to use both data from the car itself (such as whether it's drifting in lanes) with tools such as camera with facial recognition to spot when drivers yawn repeatedly or have their eyes closed.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you be happy to drive a car with such technology? Is there a risk that drivers would become too reliant on it? How could Ford deal with privacy concerns?

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glen's picture

While I own one Ford based vehicle, I would never buy one with this kind of crap on it! You may as well put me in a padded cell so I can have my 'safe space' for my remaining years - but then why live if you are 'protected' from every and all dangers?

Colin Sedgwick's picture

You might think differently Glen if by your own misguided bulletproof attitude you happened to drive tired and killed someone's loved one or maybe it was your loved one who could have been saved by this technology.

Please think of the big picture before you rant on about being "protected". We are all human with all the issues, emotions and lack of judgment inherent in our personalities. When you can prove you are perfect then you can say these tools won't help. To me, they are increasingly valuable for the protection of loved ones in whatever way they can be implemented.

I hope you never have to experience the loss and wish like so many in this world that this technology was a reality sooner.