Japanese carmaker Toyota is working on a system for preventing strokes at the wheel. The device, which is still at the prototype stage, uses sensors embedded in the steering wheel, the seat or seatbelt to monitor the driver’s heart rate.
How to prevent drivers suffering strokes at the wheel? Car manufacturer Toyota is looking to answer that question by designing a specific prevention system and integrating it into its vehicles. Numérama reports that the device has been developed in partnership with the University of Michigan (USA) and seeks to detect any signs that the driver may be about to suffer a stroke.
Monitoring the driver’s heart rate
If you are stressed or unwell, then taking to the wheel of a car could prove to be very dangerous. The French authorities have drawn up a list of medical conditions that are deemed "incompatible with driving a car", among them strokes.
But what happens if you happen to suffer one while you are driving? Toyota has the answer to that question, having developed a new system that monitors your heart rate in real time and alerts if you are about to suffer a stroke, thus helping to prevent an accident.
Toyota has entrusted the design of this new prevention tool to its Collaborative Safety Research Center. For its part, the Japanese carmaker’s partner university has conducted a seven-month study on the project. "We have identified the challenges, the potential solutions, the options available and the algorithmic approaches that are likely to be used", explained Kayvan Najarian, a medical research scientist at the University of Michigan.
Establishing a procedure in the event of a stroke
In embarking on the project, Toyota has to overcome two main problems. First of all, the system must be integrated into the vehicle, which means that it must filter out all extraneous noise and pick up only the driver’s heart beat. Toyota is thus aiming to embed sensors in the steering wheel, seat or even the seatbelt. Secondly, it still has to set out the procedure the vehicle must follow when it detects that a stroke is imminent.
Providing an alert could cause the driver to panic. If subjected to additional stress, the driver may be forced into taking a bad decision or making a sudden movement of the steering wheel.
Causing the vehicle to brake automatically is also potentially dangerous, especially on motorways. In the event of imminent danger, the company could opt, therefore, to automatically hand control over to the autonomous vehicle.
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