Vibrating safety seat alerts drivers to possible crashes

Vibrating safety seat alerts drivers to possible crashes
General Motors has developed and patented a vibrating safety seat that warns drivers of impending crash threats.

The Cadillac Safety Alert Seat generates vibrating pulse patterns on the left and/or right side of the lower bolster to alert the driver of potential dangers, such as drifting from a traffic lane or toward nearby objects while parking. Threats from the front and rear trigger pulses on both sides of the seat.

The system works in tandem with other visual alerts, and according to research, can quickly and accurately focus driver attention to the direction of potential dangers.

"It's akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention," said, GM Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. "Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience."

The seat, which is said to be more effective and more accurate than beeping alerts, relies on a variety of sensors and cameras installed in the car that help intelligently decide when to activate warnings. For example, if a turn signal is on, lane departure warnings are not presented.

Using exterior cameras, drivers can see the outside of the car along with dynamic parking guides on the 8in LCD screen, located on the centre instrument panel. As the car backs up, the seat provides a few quick pulses to both sides of the seat when an object is first detected directly behind the car, and then provides repeated pulses when an object is closer.

The Cadillac Safety Alert Seat is due to launch this Spring in the new Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, which will be the industry's first vehicle to utilise directional tactile sensation.

Laura Hopperton

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