Interesting Patents: Ford’s Anxiety Reducing Vehicle System

Systems And Methods For Reducing Anxiety In An Occupant Of A Vehicle
U.S. Patent Application Publication No 2021/0068737
Assignee: Ford Global Technologies, LLC

About the Patent Application

This week the USPTO published a patent application for Ford that describes a system and method for reducing the anxiety of an occupant of a self-driving vehicle. The application explains, “most people encounter some level of anxiety when driving a vehicle.” It continues that in some cases, “the driver may have an abnormally high level of anxiety that could potentially lead to dangerous situations, such as rear-ending of the vehicle due to the driver braking at the wrong times, or driving dangerously below the speed limit.”

Additionally, the Ford patent application seeks to address amaxophobia, a phobia that Merriam-Webster defines triggered “by being in or riding in a vehicle.”

Ford’s Anxiety Reducing SystemWhat the invention would do

Ford’s Anxiety Reducing System

Ford’s method and system aimed at autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars, utilizes a computer within a vehicle system, and a cloud storage component. The system would determine the behavioral profile and characteristics of a vehicle occupant. Methods for determining the characteristics would include sensors and indicators such as:
  • Pressure sensors in seats and handles.
  • Audio cues such as “slow down,” “watch out,” and “brake.”
  • Biosensors monitoring heart rates.
  • Imaging systems identifying on “furrowed brow, pursed lips, and narrowed eyes.”
If the behavioral characteristics are associated with an “undesirable” emotion, the system could then implement a means of addressing include playing a specific song or audio track, displaying a video clip.

why This Patent Application Interesting

Ford recently announced its three-year mark of testing and commercializing an autonomous fleet in Miami. The company has partnered with Argo AI to further develop the commercial self-driving services, building out “software integration and fleet management capabilities with ride hail and delivery service pilots.”

While commercial fleets and ridesharing may be the gateway to adopting self-driving technologies, consumers are still wary of the technologies. AAA‘s recent multi-year survey found that 3 in 4 Americans are afraid of riding in a fully self-driving car.

If autonomous vehicles are to be widely adopted, Ford recognizes that the underlying fear will ultimately need to be addressed within the vehicle.

Written by Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator
March 11, 2021

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