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Mazda patent reduces distractions by upping driving fun

by Ben Hsu

A new system monitors your level of driving engagement and rewards you for it.

Distracted driving is a growing problem, but a new Mazda patent may provide a novel solution by putting drivers on interesting roads.

In an age when a crushing tsunami of automotive technology seems to have the express purpose of making drivers less engaged with the road, Mazda is taking the opposite tack. As discovered by Jalopnik, the Jan 2, 2018 patent filing shows an in-car system that monitors the driver's engagement with the act of driving, by measuring things such as how much they are looking away from the road, fiddling with accessories, and the delay in response to pedal switching.

Such sensors aren't necessarily new per se, but it's Mazda's use of them that's innovative. The car will log the road's features along with the driver's engagement level, and in the future guide them to roads that have more engaging features.

In addition, the car will actually change its operation to reward drivers when they are engaged, like increasing the throttle response.

As motoring enthusiasts we are often looked upon with blank stares from the larger populace when we speak of driving and cars as fun. It's something that usually has to be experienced to be understood. That's why this system is so deviously ingenious. Increasing road safety while subtilely coaxing drivers to enjoy their cars more? That's a win-win.

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