CAMBRIDGE, MA - Drivers appear to be less stressed when using selected new technological advancements in the car, according to results from a nine-month advanced research project from Ford Motor Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) New England University Transportation Center (NEUTC).
The study is an extension of an ongoing alliance between Ford and MIT to improve driver focus, wellness, and safety through the integration of vehicle technology. The research objective was 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. Using biometric results as well as self-perception evaluations, the research measured the impact of new parking technologies on stress levels.
Drivers were monitored as they performed perceived "high-stress" tasks such as parallel parking and backing out of parking spaces with restricted visibility. The results showed a reduction in both self-reported stress levels and objective physiological measures used to monitor driver stress load. These findings were strongest in the parallel parking study, where use of Ford's Active Park Assist feature in the Lincoln MKS helped to significantly reduce stress on drivers compared to the manual operation of performing the same task. When backing out of parking spaces with Cross-Traffic Alert, drivers were more likely to appropriately stop and yield to an approaching vehicle than when the Cross-Traffic Alert system was unavailable, according to Ford.
For the past seven years, the automaker has been actively collaborating with MIT's New England University Transportation Center to understand the correlation between stressors and driving performance and identify technological advancements that both mitigate stress and create a more enjoyable experience. The conceptual framework for this work was released in a white paper last year.
Details describing the results of two experiments has been released by the New England University Transportation Center at MIT in a 26-page white paper. A pdf of the white paper can be viewed online.