Mazda is currently working to produce a car that can determine when its driver has a stroke or heart attack. According to the Japanese auto company, it is building the project with Tsukuba University Hospital and other medical experts to perfect the algorithm that will determine the difference between an incapacitated driver and a healthy driver.
Using the collected image data, the car camera inside the vehicle will analyze the situation. Once it is detected that the driver is experiencing health problems, the Co-Pilot Concept of the car will automatically stop and position the car in a safe place (e.g., road curb). And to signal that the driver inside needs help, the car’s system will be triggered to flash its hazard lights and blinkers, and it will also honk. In relation to this, an emergency call for an ambulance and police will be given for faster medical attention.
According to the engineer in charge of the project, Takahiro Tochioka, Mazda also aims to produce a technology that can predict and warn the drivers of unexpected health problems ahead of time (expected in 2025). In this system, the car will examine the vision and focus of the individual, head movements, irregularity in the driving habits of the driver, and more. And since privacy can be a possible issue, Tochioka assured that the personal data collected by the car system will stay private and safe.
On the other hand, Tochioka underlined that the success of the technology still depends on the “understanding and cooperation” of the drivers around that car. According to Mazda, it should help the public easily spot drivers in distress to get the urgent assistance they need. Furthermore, Tochioka said that the cars will enable people to continue driving through their lifetime while assuring the family and friends of the driver’s safety.
According to Mazda, this new feature will be available in its various models in the future, regardless of their price tags. This gives it an extra edge, especially now that the same concept is being developed by other big automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen. Nonetheless, the offering of the said feature in the US won’t be anytime sooner due to issues about social acceptance. With this, Mazda plans to present the tech in Europe after Japan.