Finger on the puls

Under its banner “My Audi cares for me,” Audi is offering a foretaste of the driving experience of the future. Audi wants drivers to get out of their cars more relaxed than when they got in.

Maximilian Haag (copy) & AUDI AG (photo)

AUDI AG is also a partner in the Berlin-based “Flying Health Incubator” project. The investment and consulting company supports startups developing digital innovations for the healthcare market.

Anyone who does a lot of driving knows how it is: On long journeys, you tend to lose concentration, in urban traffic your stress levels rise, and late in the evening you’re battling fatigue. What’s more, if you’re travelling alone, the safety risk is even greater. Audi Fit Driver, which is still at the development stage, could lend a hand in precisely these kinds of situations going forward.

The Audi Fit Driver project focuses on the driver’s well-being and health. A wearable device (a fitness wristband or smartwatch) monitors important vital parameters such as heart rate and skin temperature. Vehicle sensors supplement this data with information on driving style, breathing rate and relevant environmental data such as weather or traffic conditions. The current condition of the driver—a state of stress or fatigue, for example—is deduced from the combined data. As a result, various vehicle systems act to relax or energize the driver. The goal is to provide the best possible driving experience custom-tailored to the driver’s condition at any given time—for instance, by means of a relaxing or invigorating seat massage, appropriate climate control or suitable interior lighting.

What’s completely new here is the vehicle’s ability to actively reduce the driver’s stress level and boost concentration. On detecting increased stress, Audi Fit Driver initiates a cockpit tutorial for a specially designed breathing exercise. This approach—known as bio-feedback—is already successfully employed in competitive sports and medicine. At a later stage, Audi Fit Driver will incorporate the driver assistance and safety systems as well as tomorrow’s piloted driving functions. In the event of a medical emergency, the car would execute a piloted emergency stop and place an emergency call via the eCall system.

In this scenario, an Audi is no longer just a car equipped with cutting-edge technology; it is also beginning to develop emotional intelligence. It analyzes the state of mind of the person behind the wheel and considers what might help him or her at that moment. The car uses intelligent algorithms to get to know the driver better and better as time goes by, and knows what will benefit him or her in any given situation. That would make Audi Fit Driver more than just a driver assistance system. It would be a digital support system designed to make driving a more relaxed, less stressful experience.