A car that can prevent road rage?!! GM’s patent wants to calm you down or take over

Could technology help prevent road rage? File picture: Newspress.

Could technology help prevent road rage? File picture: Newspress.

Published May 22, 2024


Road rage is widely perceived to be getting more prevalent and dangerous the world over, but the solutions to this scourge are not always clear cut.

But now it appears that one of the world’s major car companies wants to create a vehicle that can actively help to prevent road rage incidents using a multi-pronged approach.

Without specifically using the phrase “road rage” General Motors (GM) has submitted a patent to the US Trademark Office for a system referred to as a “Vehicle Occupant Mental Wellbeing Assessment and Countermeasure Deployment.”

The application document summarises it as a “wellbeing system configured for assessing the mental well-being of a driver while driving the vehicle and deploying a countermeasure in response to a mindfulness level of the driver being beyond a desired range.

“The countermeasure may be configured to mitigate a probability of a mental wellbeing of the driver undesirably impacting operation of the vehicle.”

In other words, in plain old English, a car that can detect if the driver is a raging lunatic and take over the driving autonomously when it feels it’s necessary.

The system relies on numerous data points. Picture: US Patent and Trademark Office.

The system does appear to have a few layers.

It starts off with a “well-being” module that presumably uses artificial intelligence (AI) to get to know a driver and their driving habits through their various inputs. Once it knows what your “usual” driving is like it has a better basis to determine what your road raging looks like.

In that instance it could look out for signs of erratic driving behaviour such as tailgating, excessive hooting, hard acceleration, braking and cornering and even steering wheel grip, while also making use of the car’s lane assist and collision-warning systems to determine if a situation is developing.

But perhaps more than a little worrying is that the proposed system also makes use of things like in-vehicle microphone sound data as well as driver or passenger behaviour alerts.

Once it has determined that you are possibly raging, there are a number of countermeasures that can theoretically be deployed, according to the patent application. Early measures include prompting the driver to perform a “mental health exercise”, offering to phone a friend for the driver or, if need be, an on-dial mental health professional.

If all of that makes the driver even more angry - and we imagine in many cases it would - the car could make use of its Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to help steer the car out of trouble.

It remains to be seen whether a gadget such as this will ever see light of day as not all patent applications necessarily lead to a product being developed and marketed in the real world.

Dare we suggest they also include a deployable stress ball?

IOL Motoring

Sources: Motor1, Autoblog, US Trademark Office