News Column

Motoring snippets from afar

July 23, 2014

lRESEARCHERS at a UK university are working on a new in-car drowsiness detection system that monitors a driver's heart rate via an electrocardiogram built into the seat.

The project, from Nottingham Trent University, uses sensors called Electric Potential Integrated Circuits (EPIC), incorporated into a seat's back which can monitor pulse and breathing patterns to determine if a driver is alert enough to be behind the wheel.

The EPIC sensors, which are developed by electronics company Plessey Semiconductors, could be woven into seat upholstery and react with the driver's electric field.

Plessey says the circuits are sensitive enough to detect electric impedance at a distance and even through a solid wall.

Still in its early developmental stage, the system could one day work similarly to existing fatigue-detection devices such as Mercedes-Benz's Attention Assist, which respond to steering, throttle and brake inputs and, in turn, alert the driver of possible danger.

Plessey also says sensors could be incorporated into all of a vehicle's seats to determine occupancy in order to adjust ride, handling and air bag deployment.

l POLISH researchers developed a laser that can be aimed at cars to find out if their drivers are drunk.

The device, detailed in a study published by scientists at Warsaw'sMilitary University of Technology, can detect alcohol vapour inside moving vehicles.

However, the accuracy can be impacted by a range of factors including drunk passengers in the car, open windows or air-conditioning, but the researchers say the technology could make existing enforcement measures more efficient by reducing the number of cars that need to be stopped.

- Motoring Staff

The Mercury

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Source: Mercury, The (South Africa)

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