Engineers from Ford are working on next-generation seats that can detect if drivers suffer heart attacks.
According to the manufacturer, the seats are fitted with electrodes that can monitor a driver’s heartbeat through their clothing, and pinpoint irregularities in the heart’s rhythm.
Working in conjunction with a camera that tracks head movement and a sensitive steering wheel, if a possible heart attack is detected, the car will then guide itself to a safe stop.
Once the emergency stop has been initiated, the car’s computer can then also send for medical help via the driver’s mobile phone.
According to Ford, this technology has been developed in response to an aging population, with more and more elderly motorists reluctant to give up driving.
According to Ford’s researchers, new technology like this won’t just benefit the driver, but will also make the roads safer for other users as the amount of older drivers increases.
100-year old drivers
The managing director of Ford’s research centre in Germany, said that 100-year olds driving cars “will not be abnormal” and that the number of drivers at risk of cardiac problems behind the wheel would rise considerably.
According to Ford’s figures, nearly a third of the population will be over 65 by 2050, while stats from the Institute of Advanced Motoring said that in five years’ time one in ten people will be over 80.
Furthermore, a project by the European Union found that drivers suffering from underlying heart diseases were nearly 25 per cent more likely to be involved in road accidents.
First developed in 2011, Ford estimates that the new prototype technology could soon make it into all of the manufacturer’s production cars.
The carmaker’s current range of cars comes with a wide variety of safety kit, including Ford’s Active City Stop feature, which detects potential collisions and will automatically engage the brakes.
As well as that, the brand-new version of the Mondeo family car includes features like an industry-first inflatable seatbelt.
Even the new Mustang features the MyKey system, which allows drivers to limit the engine and also cap the stereo volume, to ensure that younger or more inexperienced drivers aren’t overwhelmed.
However, as yet Ford hasn’t given a solid date for the inclusion of the new heart-monitoring technology, though it’s expected that it could make an appearance in models at least by 2020.