Jaguar Land Rover safety tech monitors brainwaves

Researchers are developing technology that monitors a driver\'s heart rate, breathing and mind state to gauge concentration.

Jaguar Land Rover has continued to highlight its ongoing technology research, including a project that aims to scan a driver's brainwaves.

Borrowing technology from the sports, medicine and aerospace segments, the company has developed methods to monitor heart rate, respiration and levels of brain activity to determine if the driver is stressed or inattentive while behind the wheel.

Measuring brainwave activity is perhaps the biggest challenge, but JLR researchers have looked to systems in use by NASA. Sensors embedded in the steering wheel can detect signals that originate in the brain, eliminating the need to have a sensor array attached directly to the head. Software is used to amplify the brainwave signal and remove 'noise.'

"If brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver's awareness and re-engage them with driving," said JLR research and technology director Dr Wolfgang Epple. "If Mind Sense does not detect a surge in brain activity following the car displaying a warning icon or sound, then it could display it again, or communicate with the driver in a different way, to ensure the driver is made aware of a potential hazard."

The company is also assessing ways to monitor driver wellness via sensors embedded into the driver seat, helping determine if a driver is fit to take the wheel if future vehicles encounter a problem with fully autonomous operation. Other technology aims to predict what infotainment controls a driver intends to press, engaging the button before the driver's hand reaches to the physical display.

All of the new safety technologies are in the research-and-development stage. It is unclear if any will make it to production.

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