Using a specially equipped 2010 Lincoln MKS test vehicle, AgeLab researchers teamed up with Ford Motor Company to measure and monitor physiological changes in heart rate during and following the completion of driving challenges, including parallel parking and backing out of a concealed parking space.
Through biometric results as well as self-perception evaluations, the research measured the impact of new parking technologies on stress levels. A white paper describing the results of two experiments will be released today by AgeLab and the New England University Transportation Center.
The on-board technologies included Ford’s Active Park Assist feature, which steers the vehicle when parallel parking. The feature was found to significantly reduce stress on drivers compared to manual parallel parking. With the Active Park Assist feature, there was a 12 beats per minute reduction in heart rate while parking and an average 3.4 beats per minute reduction when the driver was anticipating assisted parking, in comparison to manual parking.
“This represents an important step in enhancing the design of future technology, improving safety, minimizing stress and contributing to well-being,” said Bryan Reimer, one of the principle researchers for the project.
Researcher Bruce Mehler added that the future of in-car technologies depends heavily on the car being aware of driver state and responding to it: “If you can detect change, then you can do something about it,” he said. AgeLab, which endeavors to improve driver well-being, will continue to research technologies that detect and reduce stress.