When Every Second Counts: IAV Presents Digital Health Assistant for Drivers

25.06.2021  — 

Berlin. As the average age of drivers rises, the likelihood of emergencies behind the wheel due to illness increases. At the same time, many people with pre-existing conditions are unable to use the car or can only do so to a limited extent. Engineering specialist IAV has joined forces with the University of Oldenburg to develop a digital assistant that monitors the driver’s health status, accurately detects changes ranging from shortness of breath to heart attack – and automatically initiates rescue measures in an emergency.

Modern cars have a wide range of safety systems to provide the best possible protection for drivers and passengers. More features are added with each model. To date, however, systems that monitor the driver’s health status and react in an emergency hardly play any role in vehicles.

“Existing assistance systems such as fatigue or emergency assist programs know practically nothing about the health status of the driver. As a result, they do not intervene or intervene too late in health emergencies,” says Mark Busse, Head of the Connected Systems Integration department at IAV.

«With the health assistant we have developed, we put both the driver's vital data and deviations from individual driving behavior at the center of the decision as to whether and to what extent the vehicle intervenes.»

Mark Busse — Head of the Connected Systems Integration department at IAV

IAV developed the digital health assistant under the name “The Car That Cares” and successfully tested it in a commercial passenger car. The University of Oldenburg cooperated with IAV for this project and provided support in sensor technology, medical emergency detection and medical device evaluation.

The Car That Cares consists of several components: a certified chest strap that detects pulse and respiratory rate, AI-supported IAV software implemented in the vehicle, and a smart and secured IAV cloud infrastructure. Thanks to the modular design of the system, it will also be possible to integrate further measurement systems and sensors at a later stage, for example to determine oxygen saturation and sugar levels. The secure data infrastructure can be flexibly designed and thus adapted to the data protection regulations of the respective country.

In the cloud, an AI developed by IAV analyzes the health and vehicle data, creates a digital driver profile and transmits relevant threshold values to the vehicle. As soon as the AI-powered software in the vehicle detects that the driver’s data deviates from normal and may become safety-critical, it activates the vehicle’s assistance and automation functions. The machine learning algorithms are trained to detect on- and offline anomalies in the driver’s health status. These include mild to severe impairment and emergencies such as respiratory distress, heart attack or loss of consciousness.

«The system responds consistently, but at the same time appropriately, to the situation. In mild respiratory distress, for example, the system warns the driver via the infotainment system and, if necessary, activates the lane departure warning system and reduces the speed. In emergencies such as a heart attack or loss of consciousness, the vehicle comes to a safe stop at the side of the road and places an eCall.»

Jens Schulze — Head of the Data Analytics and Fleet Validation department at IAV

The driver has the option of stopping the initiated measures at any time.

The health assistant, made up of certified chest strap, software and cloud connection, can be incorporated into the existing software architecture of modern production vehicles as well as integrated during the development phase of new models. It also lends itself to use in commercial vehicles: The Car That Cares could monitor the vital signs of truck and bus drivers, alert them to critical changes – and, in an emergency, bring the vehicles, which weigh several tons, to a safe stop.

About IAV

With more than 8,000 employees, IAV is one of the world’s leading engineering partners to the automotive industry. The company has been developing innovative concepts and technologies for future vehicles for more than 35 years and generated sales of around EUR 896 million in 2020. Its customers include all major automobile manufacturers and suppliers worldwide. Alongside vehicle and drivetrain development, IAV entered the field of electromobility and autonomous driving at an early stage and is now one of the leading development service providers in these fields. Alongside its development centers in Berlin, Gifhorn and Chemnitz/Stollberg, IAV has further locations in Munich, Sindelfingen and Ingolstadt, among others, as well as in Europe, Asia and North and South America.