Imagine having to scan your fingerprint before you can start your car, to determine if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is within legal limits. Automotive suppliers Takata and TruTouch have just received a $2.25 million grant from the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) to further development of a system that would do just that. In the not-too-distant future, the technology could be voluntarily implemented on new cars, or mandated for use by those previously convicted of drunk driving.
The technology behind the system exists today, but it’s neither portable nor robust enough for use in a vehicle. Current systems are shoebox sized, and can operate only within a narrow window of temperature and humidity. Although the infrared scanners used are more accurate than a traditional Breathalyzer test, the current systems take several seconds to collect and analyze data, which is perceived as too long for a vehicle ignition interface.
The NHTSA backs the efforts of the ACTS, and it views the technology as a way of reducing the number of Americans killed in drunk driving related accidents each year. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which made up 32 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Assuming the engineering obstacles can be overcome, the systems could hit the market in 8 to 10 years. Whether that’s a good thing or an invasion of your privacy is entirely up to you.
Source: Detroit Free Press