Nissan is experimenting with an array of technology
that detects drunken driving. A sensor in the trans-
mission shift knob can measure the level of alcohol
in a driver's sweat, while the car's navigation system
can sound an alarm if it detects erratic driving, such
as weaving across lanes.
The University of Leicester is working on a system
that aims LED lights at the driver to track their eye
movements and determine if they are paying atte-
ntion to the road.
But even awake and alert drivers can get distracted.
Audi is testing an attention guard that uses cameras
to monitor the driver's head position. If a driver looks
away from the road for too long and the car's sens-
ors see it is coming up on another vehicle, the car
will sound an alarm and even slow down to prevent
"The overall objective is to keep you safe, to keep you moving," says Mohan Trivedi, director of UC San Diego's lab for intelligent and
safe automobiles, who has worked with Audi on the technology. "One of the other things is a stress-free, enjoyable ride for the driver."
Then there are systems that use sensors to keep tabs on a driver's health. Ford has teamed up with health-tech companies on a gluc-
ose reader that alerts diabetic drivers when their blood-sugar level drops. Ford also has developed external sensors that can detect
high pollen counts and monitor an asthmatic's breathing.
At the Nippon Medical School in Japan, researchers are testing electrocardiograph sensors in the steering wheel that can pick up early
signs that a driver is having a heart attack.
It will be a few years before most of these technologies appear inside production vehicles. But third-party apps on phones and
wearable devices, such as fitness bands and Google's Glass eyewear, could become commonplace much sooner.
For example, DriveSafe is a Google Glass app that uses the headset's built-in accelerometer to detect when a driver's head falls. It
also employs infrared sensors to count eye blinks and can sound an alarm if it detects the driver is falling asleep.
All this monitoring technology may seem creepy to people who are sensitive to digital privacy. And the potential exists for annoying
false alarms. But if it works properly it could make our cars, and highways, safer.
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
For decades, inflatable airbags have been protecting people in cars from
the devastating jolt of collisions. There are airbags mounted in the dash,
steering wheel, side panels, seats and even seat belts.
Despite their varied locations, these airbags all have one thing in common:
They're inside the vehicle. But what if someone made airbags that inflated
on the outside to help protect the car -- and pedestrians -- before the mo-
ment of impact?
TRW Automotive, a maker of safety technologies, is developing a large
airbag that would fit into rocker panels on the side of the vehicle, on the beam below the doors. A system of cameras and radar on
the car would detect when a collision was imminent and send a signal to the airbag, which would inflate outward and upward within
In this way, the side airbag would absorb some of the energy of the collision before the vehicle's frame was struck.
Crash tests have shown that the external airbags can reduce the impact on a vehicle's interior – the inward crumpling of a car's frame
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