Ford is taking a new approach to vehicle safety that recognises the increasing age of the world's driving population. The US carmaker has developed a car seat that can detect when a driver is having a heart attack.
The technology works by incorporating 'electrocardiograph' (heart-monitoring) sensors in the seats that can detect an irregular heartbeat. Additionally, there is an in-car camera that can tell if the driver has slumped in his seat.
Should the vehicle sense a medical emergency taking place, it is able to guide itself to a complete stop using automated steering and braking systems, before automatically alerting the emergency services, The Independent reports.
Pim van der Jagt, director of Ford's Research Centre, told the Financial Times this technology has been developed for a future where "100-year olds driving cars will not be abnormal". It is expected that as the driving population grows older, such medical conditions could become a major cause of road accidents.
Van der Jagt continued: "About 30 per cent of people above 65 have some kind of heart irregularity, and with the number of older car buyers set to rise dramatically this is an area of concern."
Dr Achim Lindner, of the Ford Research Centre, said: "The system will be able to detect if someone is having a cardiovascular issue, for example a heart attack, and could also be used to detect the symptoms of other conditions such as high blood pressure or electrolyte imbalances. This not only benefits the driver; but also could make the roads safer for all users."
Ford has not revealed when this technology will be made available, but Mr Van der Jagt did state that the heart monitoring system could be implemented on customer cars within the next five years.
Author: Padraig Mallett