Let’s just admit it – most of us, at one time or another, have ventured closer than we’d like to admit to falling fully asleep while driving behind the wheel. When I used to work the night shift, it became almost a daily battle to keep my eyes open long enough to drive home; I was constantly nodding off and jerking my head back up, adrenaline kicking in long enough to keep me alert for another couple of minutes before my head would start nodding off again. There were even a couple of times when I began to veer off of the road only to be snapped awake by the rumble strips on the side of the highway. Today I’m so thankful I never crashed the car due to sleeping and driving. Others haven’t been so lucky.
Oh, there’s lots of ideas out there to prevent falling asleep behind the wheel – blasting the music, freezing yourself out with the air conditioning, rolling down the windows, slapping yourself (that one doesn’t really work), and the list could go on and on. If the body is tired though, there’s not a lot you can do to keep it from shutting down. Not for long anyway. But there’s some new car seats being developed that might just help drowsy drivers get home (or wherever else they’re going) safely without risking their lives or anyone else’s in the process. Some researchers from Nottingham Trent University have been hard at work designing a special type of car seat that detects a driver’s electrocardiogram – in other words, it can read your heart rate, etc. to see when a person is falling asleep while driving.
To be honest, the car seats they’re working on are not ready to hit the market, nor will they be likely to within the next few years – but they do have incredible potential. The idea behind them is simple – when the seat detects a driver falling asleep, it will turn on all of the vehicle’s autonomous features, such as cruise control and automatic lane-keeping, and let the driver sleep peacefully.
While I appreciate this technology, it’s also a little scary at the same time. What if something goes wrong? Can we really depend on an autonomous car?
What do you think? Would you place your life in the hands of a car? Let us know your thoughts regarding this story in the comments section below.
[Image via Recapo]