GM patent driver mental well-being assessment system

General Motors has applied to patent a technology that takes driver-monitoring to a new level. The automaker outlined a system that analyzes the driver’s behavior by reading data sent by onboard sensors — and can have the car take over if it detects unsafe behavior.

Filed in November 2022, and published this month, the patent describes a “vehicle occupant mental well-being assessment and counter-measure deployment” system. The technology was developed by a General Motors subsidiary named GM Global Technology Operations, and it aims to intervene when it detects that stress — regardless of where it comes from — can affect the driver’s ability to operate the car, says Auto Blog.

What’s considered unsafe behavior depends at least somewhat on how you drive. The system first records data points to establish a profile of your driving habits. It then uses this information as a baseline to decide when you’re driving erratically. For example, it detects your stop-start frequency, hard braking, hard accelerating, hard cornering, and excessive honking. Existing technology enables some of these features: The system knows whether you’re obeying traffic signs, whether you’re tailgating, and how strong of a grip you’ve got on the steering wheel.

The system can take several actions if it decides something isn’t right, including asking the driver to perform “a mental health exercise,” to call a friend or a family member, or to seek therapy from a trained professional. It can even initiate a call to “a trained advisor” on its own. Alternatively, it can leverage the onboard electronic driving aids to “autonomously [control] one or more driving functions of the vehicle.” 

General Motors hasn’t commented, and it hasn’t revealed when (or even if) it plans to deploy this driver-monitoring system. Keep in mind that a patent application isn’t a guarantee that the technology it describes will see the light at the end of a production line. Toyota once patented a “shape-morphing fuselage for an aerocar” yet the new Land Cruiser was unveiled without wings or a flight mode. 

(Pic – Panuwat Dangsungnoen/Dreamstime)


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