Imagine this: you’ve lived on ramen and peanut butter for 32 years, finally scraping together enough savings to buy a 2018 Ferrari 475 Beijing. At delivery, the salesman hands you the transmitter and tells you to “enjoy” with a wave of his hand. A quick fingerprint and iris scan later, and the car’s 200 horsepower, 1.4 liter engine comes to life. You select “drive”, and with a hum of the electric motors you’re off. Two minutes later, the car detects that you’re enjoying the ride a little too much: your pulse is up, and galvanic skin response detectors embedded in the steering wheel sense a thin sheen of sweat. For your own good,, the car cuts power to the electric motors by 50%, and to the gasoline engine by 75%. Traction control is enhanced, and the brake assist sonar scans farther out. The suspension is softened to prevent abrupt driver input, so you’re now driving a Ferrari with the handling and throttle response of a 1992 Buick Century. Congratulations on your new ride.
Is this the stuff of gear head nightmares, or something out of a science fiction nanny state? Not entirely, as Ferrari is indeed working on sensors to monitor the driver and adjust performance accordingly. Pulse and respiration will be checked, just to make sure you’re not in over your head (or getting a little something extra behind the wheel; wink wink, nudge nudge). Blink rate and (eventually) brain wave activity will be monitored as well, to ensure that you’re sufficiently rested to drive a Ferrari. If it senses that you’re not on your “A” game, the car’s performance will be adjusted to meet the alertness and mental state of the driver. In other words, the car will dole out horsepower and grip as it thinks you need it.
Recent patent filings from Ferrari summarize their efforts as follows:
Drivers tend to miscalculate — in particular, overestimate — their driving skill and, more importantly, their psychophysical condition, with the result that driver-selected dynamic vehicle performance simply reflects the driver’s wish, as opposed to the driver’s actual psychophysical condition and proficiency.
The biometric sensors may comprise a piezoelectric measuring device for measuring the driver’s respiration, a device for measuring the driver’s blood pressure and heart rate, a television camera for monitoring the driver’s eyes (blink rate) to determine the driver’s alertness, a device for monitoring the electric activity of the driver’s brain, a device for recording the driver’s surface temperature and a device for recording the conductivity of the driver’s skin (to determine the degree of perspiration).
Ferrari insists that any application of the technology will be non-intrusive, but I fail to see how that’s possible. If it limits performance, it’s intrusive, especially when we’re talking about a vehicle with world-class sporting intentions. Eventually, federal safety standards will probably mandate the use of such technology in passenger cars, but let’s all hope that it’s still years away. A future where cars tell me how much I can handle (or worse, drive themselves) isn’t one I really want to ponder.
Thanks to my buddy Brad for the tip on this story!
Source: AOL Autos