Jaguar Land Rover has begun research into using brainwaves to detect driver drowsiness.
The Indian-owned British luxury car maker says that its Mind Sense research team, which includes "leading neuroscientists", is currently investigating if it's possible to use brainwave monitoring to spot the signs of driver inattention.
According to the company, the human brain generates at least four distinct brainwaves at different frequencies. The car's computer could monitor these waves and figure out if a driver is focussed, distracted, daydreaming or slowly drifting off to the land of nod.
Once the car concludes that the driver's attention is drifting, it could vibrate the pedals or steering wheel to get his or her attention. If that doesn't generate a positive surge in brain activity more warnings would follow.
Jaguar Land Rover believes that the most common scientific method of detecting brainwaves, attaching sensors to a person's head, is impractical for automobile use.
Instead, the company is using technology that's currently employed by both NASA and the US bobsleigh team. Rather than have sensors attached to the driver's head, the sensors are located in the car's steering wheel. As the brainwave signals are being detected through the driver's hand, they require software amplification and noise cancelling.
The company is also working on a "wellness seat" for its range-topping XJ sedan. This high-tech driver seat's would feature a built-in "medical-grade sensor" that can monitor heartbeat and breathing.
This seat can detect the signs of a debilitating health situation, as well as determine if the driver is capable of resuming driving duties if the car is in an autonomous or semi-autonomous driving mode. If the seat thinks that the driver is stressed it could also change the interior mood lighting, and adjust the audio and climate control settings.
No timeline has been given for when these technologies may appear in a production vehicle.