Haptic Steering Wheels Could Save You From the Blinding Sun

Illustration for article titled Haptic Steering Wheels Could Save You From the Blinding Sun

Let's say you're flying down the road at inadvisably high speeds, listing to some tunes, and having a grand old time. And then, Mr. Sun just happens to peek out from behind a distant building/mountain/hill and punches you straight in the gat-dang eyes. You're blinded by the light. Whatchu gonna do?

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Well step one is to hopefully not run yourself off the road and die, and a steering wheel being designed by Eelke Folmer and Burkay Sucu at the University of Reno in Nevada could help with that. The idea of using vibration in steering wheels to help guide drivers from point A to point B has been floating around for a while, but this iteration is more about keeping you from getting lost straight into a tree.

Using vibrations tuned to 275 hertz (a frequency that's perfect for human hands) the wheel would vibrate on the left and right sides to coax you between the lines. It wouldn't just do this on its own, of course. The action would be triggered by some sort of light sensor that'd guess when you're blinded, and the vibrations would be guided by some of the same tech that's used to keep self-driving cars on the road.

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So far the tech has fared well in testing; it's just a matter of making sure the vibrators are appropriately placed and that there are enough of them. Personally I'm holding out for cars that can just drive themselves, blinding light or no, but I guess this wouldn't be a bad mid-step to keep me alive until then. [New Scientist]

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DISCUSSION

aarondavis02
Aaron Davis

In many places they cut grooves (called rumble strips) into the shoulder just outside the white line, and in the center between the yellow lines. If you fall asleep and drift outside the lines, the whole car vibrates and hopefully wakes you up.