United States' President Joe Biden recently signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, which includes a requirement for automakers to install driver monitoring devices that detect intoxicated or impaired drivers. Current methods, however, rely on cameras, making the technology unreliable.
Researchers have now developed heat-resistant, pressure-detecting sensors that, when connected to seats, can detect whether a driver is asleep or suffering from a sudden sickness, alerting a future smart car to intervene. This is an excellent contribution to Vehicle Active Safety System Market as it would help prevent accidents that may occur due to negligence of a driver or serious medical condition. The approach could benefit drivers while also making roads much safer.
With an outside, forward-looking camera, most modern drowsiness detection systems monitor lane position or sudden, excessive corrections. Others employ an inside camera to look for signs of drowsiness in the driver's face or eyes. While effective, camera-based solutions have limitations. An external camera, for example, may be obstructed by mud, and an indoor camera may be less useful at night.
Scientists have previously looked into employing piezoelectric sensors. They refer to self-powered materials that build an electrical charge in reaction to pressure. The sensors are responsible for monitoring a driver's posture, which can vary when they are inebriated, have a medical emergency, or fall asleep. On the other hand, existing piezoelectric sensors cannot endure high temperatures, which is a need for electrical and electronic equipment in automobiles. Consequently, the researchers set out to create flexible, heat-resistant piezoelectric sheet sensors that could be implanted in a vehicle's seat to track the driver's position.
The researchers created zinc oxide-based coatings directly on a polyimide surface to make a piezoelectric sheet. After that, the team screen-printed a silver paste on both sides. They used a coaxial cable to monitor changes in electrical charge as a function of pressure. After that, the sheets were folded in equal parts around the cable. The scientists installed a sensor in the back of a chair after demonstrating that the sensor could detect variations in mechanical load. The sensor sheet withstood heat up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit without losing any properties.
The sensor enables the researchers to compute a sitting person's breathing and pulse rates by sensing minor body movements. Two more sensors attached to the seat of a chair might detect when a person's upper body leaned left or right, which could indicate tiredness.
According to the researchers, a monitoring system based on the sensors may identify changes in vital signs or body posture in the future, causing a self-driving car to seek out a safe spot and then come to a halt.
Depending on the situation, the vehicle could contact emergency healthcare providers. For getting there, the piezoelectric sensors will have to be tested in an automobile, where vehicle motions and vibrations will add to background noise in the readings.
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