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Vibrating steering wheel gives sat-nav instructions
A new steering wheel system that vibrates to relay sat-nav route instructions to drivers is being tested.
The technology employs 20 actuators – or vibrating points – on the wheel that shake in a given direction to indicate a guidance instruction from your sat-nav system. A clockwise vibrating pattern indicates a right turn should be made with an anti-clockwise series of vibrations signalling a left.
The vibrating steering wheel concept has been developed by the AT&T laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University in America and employs “haptics” – the same method of feedback used to deliver a high-frequency signal on a touchscreen smartphone.
According to researchers, the new system leads to between three and four per cent fewer incidents of distracted driving, as drivers will not have to avert their gaze from the road to check their sat-nav’s screen.
The system can also be programmed in other ways to help improve driver safety – the wheel can shake in different ways to alert motorists to a vehicle in their blind spot, for example.
The new technology could see accident rates and the yearly road death toll reduced significantly if it were brought to market.
A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon highlighted that inattentiveness amongst young drivers decreased by three per cent when using the vibrating wheel compared to a conventional speaking guidance system.
The investigation also confirmed the benefit of the new technology is not solely limited to younger motorists – it was found drivers aged 65 and over were also four per cent more attentive using the vibrating wheel.
Previous research into the subject found that drivers who do not have to listen to instructions make fewer errors and are therefore safer on the road.
The full research paper will be presented to the Pervasive 2012 technology conference at Newcastle University in June.
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