World’s First ‘Attention-Powered’ Car Unveiled In Australia: Video Photo:

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Trevor Collett | Sep, 26 2013 | 3 Comments

An ‘attention-powered’ car has been unveiled in Western Australia this week, as part of a campaign to learn more on the dangers of driver distraction.

Western Australia’s RAC is behind the campaign, commissioning the Emotiv company to combine computer software with a Hyundai i40 so that the car will only operate when driven attentively.

It may not be the most liveable arrangement, however: in a controlled test, the car's driver wore a headset with 14 sensors, detecting electrical activity from various areas of the brain.

The driver was asked to perform tasks such as sending a text message on a mobile phone, having a drink of water and changing the radio station.

Every time the driver’s attention wandered from the task of driving, the computer software would ‘punish’ the driver by either de-activating the throttle, causing the vehicle to slow or stop, or implementing a speed limit of 15km/h.

RAC WA General Manager, Pat Walker, said that driver inattention was a problem for Western Australia in particular, with the state currently recording fatality rates above the national average. More than half of WA fatalities were occurring on country roads.

“The impact of inattention is now comparable to the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by speed and drink driving which are all contributors to WA consistently having the worst fatality rate of any Australian state,” Mr Walker said.

“Nationally, it is estimated inattention was a factor in 46 percent of fatal crashes.”

Data from the attention-powered car and the driver’s headset was collected during testing in an effort to learn more about driver inattention.

The RAC WA plans to use the car to educate the public and raise awareness of the dangers of driver distraction.

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