Toyota heartbeat sensor could redefine vehicle safety

July 25, 2011 12:00 AM

The field of vehicle safety is typically focused on things like preventing accidents from occurring and protecting occupants in case of a collision. Recent technology has demonstrated positive improvements in areas like sensing other vehicles and cars that can intelligently navigate.

However, one of the more significant safety developments might have little to do with accidents, reports the Wall Street Journal. Toyota has developed a new steering wheel that has the capability to monitor a driver's heart rate. The company has been trying to increase safety since the recall scandal damaged its image, and this heartbeat sensor is one of their more promising innovations.

When a driver grasps the steering wheel, the car can detect the user's heartbeat and even display it on the navigation screen. Toyota hopes to take the abilities further as well. For example, the automaker found that 25 percent of all accidents are due to a sudden change in a driver's physical condition, most commonly a heart attack. The system would be able to detect such a risk and disable the vehicle so that the driver wouldn't be a danger to others, while also calling emergency services.

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