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Ford Partners With MIT to Lower Driver Stress

December 30, 2009

DEARBORN, MI --- Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are embarking on a plan to study driver workload and identify new opportunities to use in-vehicle technologies to improve driver safety by lowering stress. 

While holiday shoppers recover from fighting long lines, crowded parking lots and icy roads, Ford and MIT researchers are focusing on how the car can potentially enhance overall human wellness, become an oasis from stressful situations, and increase driver attention and safety. 

Partnering with MIT's renowned AgeLab, the project will identify specific stress-inducing driving situations, monitor a driver's reaction to the situations using biometrics, and evaluate methods to incorporate new stress-reducing features into the next generation of Ford products. A six-month effort beginning this January will focus on human interaction with a specially equipped 2010 Lincoln MKS, a vehicle already recognized for its advanced safety features. 

"We strongly believe that driving can be made safer by reducing the stress load placed on a driver," said Jeff Rupp, Ford manager of active safety research. "Through the use of our existing technologies such as adaptive cruise control with collision warning or SYNC, our voice-activated communications system, we are proactively guiding drivers away from difficult situations. 

"The goal of this program is to take this one step further by creating the most comfortable driving environment possible so that our driver is always relaxed, calm and able to perform at peak performance," added Rupp. 

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