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November 6, 2021

Mazda's Co-Pilot Tech Will Take Over Driving If You Fall Asleep Or Get Incapacitated

Mazda is ready to release a new safety feature that will help drivers that could suddenly become incapacitated. Called the Co-Pilot Concept (the name has yet to be finalized), it will give their cars the ability to warn other road-goers while automatically pulling over to the side of the road. We first got wind of the technology way back in 2016.

Monitoring of the driver comes simply from an interior-mounted camera that faces the driver. Mazda has been working with the Tsukuba University Hospital so software can distinguish whether a driver is alert or slumped over. The program can then identify drivers falling unconscious due to sudden health issues like a stroke or heart attack, a growing concern for aging populations like Japan’s. It can also be used for those who are under the influence or fatigued.

Upon detecting an incapacitated driver, the car will warn other drivers by honking and flashing its lights. It will then pull over to the side of the road in initiate a call to emergency services.

For privacy concerns, the personal data does not leave the car.

The technology seems to be a natural progression of modern safety features, which can monitor lane position, blind spots, and adjust speed based on surrounding traffic. Mazda estimates that the technology will hit production cars next year in Japan. Afterwards, it will roll out to Europe and the rest of the world after.

Mazda is also researching ways to detect a health issue before the driver is even aware of it themselves. Swaying heads, unfocused eyes, and anomalies in driving style are all being considered. By 2025, it hopes the system will be able to warn drivers before the ailment strikes.

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