Sensor-enabled seatbelts, seat covers jolt up drivers when they’re sleepy
It is still time before self-driving robotic cars hit the roads, until then it’s up to human drivers to steer the wheel. And when humans are behind the wheel, chances of accidents increase due to fatigue. To counter this with technology, Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) aka Biomechanics Institute (IBV) in Valencia, Spain has developed a noninvasive system dubbed Harken to prevent driver fatigue and sleepiness.
Harken features integrated smart textiles and sensors that can measure human heartbeat and respiration pace. Since the system can be embedded into a vehicle’s seat cover and the seatbelt, it can measure heart rate (through seatbelt) and respiratory rate (through seat cover) of the driver. The data indicates when the driver is falling asleep due fatigue, and an alarm is triggered automatically to wake the driver up before he loses control.
Harken system comprises of three main components – the seatbelt sensor, the seat cover sensor and the signal processing unit (SPU) that process all the data about the driver. Thanks to the SPU, Harken can detect mechanical effects of respiratory rate and heart rate (filtering all unwanted noise of vehicle vibration and driver movement) and anticipate symptoms of sleepiness and fatigue with the intention to reduce chance of accident.
José Solaz, director of innovation markets in automobile and mass transportation at Biomechanics Institute says:
The variations in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue. So, when people go into a state of fatigue or drowsiness, modifications appear in their breathing and heart rate; Harken can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the onset of symptoms of fatigue.
First fully functional prototype of the Harken system have been tested for positive and reliable results in closed track test. Soon, the system will be tested in real traffic scenarios for its ultimate goal of helping in reducing accidents in the near future.