Supercar maker lines up tech that monitors driver and asjusts chassis set-up to suit
7 January 2011

Ferrari is working on in-car technology that will monitor a driver’s mental and physical state and adjust the car’s stability and traction control systems to suit, Autocar can reveal.

The technology is outlined in a series of Europe-wide and global patent applications. The documents show how Ferrari expects a range of sensors to provide the cars of the future with data on the driver, allowing it to adjust its set-up accordingly.

Ferrari’s application states: “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.”

Read more on the next Ferrari Enzo

The application describes a cabin housing “various (preferably non-invasive) biometric and psychometric sensors for recording and transmitting… the values of a number of psychophysical parameters of the driver”.

It adds: “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).”

A single line diagram with the application appears to indicate that sensors would be mounted in the cabin ceiling, dashboard, steering wheel and driver’s seat area. It also includes a manettino dial, indicating that Ferrari intends to continue offering the race-based driver control system.

Read Autocar's full road test of the Ferrari 458

The application is based on improving driver safety but could also be used to sharpen a car’s dynamics to better satisfy a more alert driver.

Ferrari says: “The dynamic performance may be modified to enhance driving safety in the case of a tired or unresponsive driver, and also to enhance driving pleasure and/or performance in the case of an alert, responsive driver.”

Greg Kable

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