Increasingly, drivers are expecting more from their steering wheel.
Not only do we need it to be responsive on the road (for, you know, steering), we also now rely on this integral instrument to control music, in-car climate and phone connectivity. It all falls in line with our hands-on-the-wheel at all times, anti-distraction road mentality.
But now, researchers are taking it up a notch, designing a steering wheel that will also check on the driver’s health.
According to a report by Gizmag, researchers from Germany’s Technische Universitaet Muenchen are working in collaboration with BMW to develop a “smart steering wheel” that can provide drivers with a quick health check-up.
Sensors integrated in the wheel can measure things like the driver’s blood pressure and stress levels. These sensors, which use infrared light to gauge heart rate and oxygen saturation in the driver’s fingers, requires the motorist to have both hands on the wheel to collect the data.
“Our vision is to get the vehicle to detect when the driver is no longer feeling well and to initiate appropriate measures,” says lead researcher Tim Lueth.
Those “appropriate measures” can be immediate. For instance, if the steering wheel detects the driver is stressed out, the system would be able to block phone calls or turn down the volume on the radio. If a driver is experiencing a more serious health issue (for example, a heart attack), the system could reduce the speed of the car and turn on the hazard lights.
It’s fascinating stuff. But, would such technology take too much control out of the driver’s hands? Let us know in the comments below.