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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Winter 2010 Download Newsletter pdf
[1 MB, 12 pgs.]

Winter 2010 | Vol. 12 | No. 3

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Ford and MIT Explore Using Technology to Reduce Driver Stress

Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced a new joint research project to discover ways to reduce driver stress and improve safety through the use of in-vehicle technologies. The six-month study will focus on human interaction with a specially equipped 2010 Lincoln MKS as a test vehicle.

MIT’s AgeLab, which conducts research to improve the quality of life of older people, is leading the project. The goal is to develop a way to measure how the car can become aware of the state of the driver and automatically adjust to reduce driver stress.

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Researchers will identify specific stress-inducing driving situations and then monitor a driver’s reaction to the situations using biometrics such as heart rate, skin conductivity and eye movement. With this data, they will evaluate methods to incorporate new stress-reducing features into the next generation of automobiles.

“Today’s driver is feeling a greater level of anxiety than in the past, both from situations inside and outside the vehicle,” said Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab and project leader. “By identifying specific situations and the physiological effect they have on the driver, we are seeking solutions that can bring the driver from a heightened stress level back to an optimal operational state and thereby make their commute safer and more comfortable.”

This phase of the study is expected to conclude in July 2010, and Ford and MIT will publicize findings shortly after its conclusion.

Visit MIT’s AgeLab website to download a white paper describing the concept for this project: