COLUMBUS, Ohio–Smart braking systems are key to developing modern safety features in cars to help consumers and vehicles compensate for distracted and depleted driving situations. The same is the case for what students at Ohio State University’s College of Engineering call “anxious driving.”
Indeed, a study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Audi, say certain driving situations can be an anxiety-producing as skydiving.
Students are asking what if a vehicle could detect when you’re stressed and help you calm down? That’s the premise behind the Honda-sponsored capstone project assigned to seven Ohio State students.
The project began during the last term when a team of students designed a prototype that detects when the driver of a car is anxious. Now a new batch of students is taking the project to the next level.
“Our project is to try to mitigate the anxiety or stress that is detected in the driver,” said biomedical engineering major George Gerges. “We want to do that in a passive, seamless, friendly way.”
The team spent fall semester researching proven techniques to reduce stress across a variety of fields, from psychology to sports. They identified optimal ways to target three senses—smell, sight, and sound—to lower stress without impacting safety.
“We want to make sure the things we implement won’t impede the driver’s focus on the road, because ultimately that is the highest priority,” explained Brooke Delventhal.
Once the system detects that the driver is stressed, it will automatically begin playing soothing music, diffuse a comforting scent and turn on a blue light—all of which studies have shown to diminish stress. When the driver’s anxiety is reduced, the system will turn off.