Many automakers include fatigue detection technology in new vehicles, but Ford is looking to make the technology accessible to all drivers through wearable Safe Cap technology.
Presented as part of Ford’s celebration of 60 years of truck production in Brazil, the Safe Cap concept looks every bit like a normal truckers cap, but plays host to some innovative technology designed to detect fatigue.
Hidden within the cap are sensors that monitor a driver’s head movements and can tell when they start to tire.
A study by Ford has analysed the kinds of typical movements truck drivers make in a normal working day, along with the kind of motions that indicate drowsiness - literally ‘nodding off’.
That data resides in the Safe Cap’s built-in processor and is analysed against actions picked up from an accelerometer and gyroscope embedded in the hat.
Should the Safe Cap detect drowsiness it can warn the driver via vibration, a warning chime, or flashes of light to indicate it’s time to pull over and take a break.
While it may only be a prototype at the moment, Ford will complete testing and look to secure patents and certification for the device. Although production isn’t planned just yet the automaker is keen to share the technology with partners to bring it to market.
The innovation goes against the usual behaviour from carmakers who use new technology to encourage buyers into newer vehicles. With Safe Cap the benefits of fatigue detection are opened up to owners of all makes or models, regardless of vehicle age.
“Ford is the first automotive company to think about creating a wearable device for drivers to use for the time when they are behind the wheel that can contribute to prevent accidents,” Lyle Watters, president of Ford South America said.
“This way, we are able to reinforce our commitment on bringing embedded technology not only for vehicles, but also through accessories that are capable of making the lives of drivers easier and the focus on safety as a priority in our technology investments.”
Ford has tested Safe Cap over eight months with real-world drivers, and has presented it to sleep specialists and road-safety experts who see the wearable technology as a viable way of preventing fatigue-related road accidents.