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The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Ferrari plans bionic interface

2011-01-10 11:52

MAN BECOMES MACHINE: Ferrari’s renowned marinetto dial will soon dial in performance parameters of traction and stability control calibrated by a driver’s physical condition.

Dynamic safety intervention systems may be the bane of petrolheads, yet they do save lives.

As the brake modulation technologies supporting electronic stability systems have developed to offer a more variable (and less constraining) intervention threshold in high-performance vehicles, they have managed to appease the desires of demanding drivers.

Now the world’s most famous supercar brand, Ferrari, is working on a level of futuristic stability and traction control intervention - triggered by biometric mechanisms.

Documents served to the European patent office by Ferrari showcase a new range of technologies, all using a driver's physical state to influence vehicle traction and stability control parameters.

Bionic Ferrari driver interface?

According to Ferrari its new technical innovations encompass various (preferably non-invasive) biometric and psychometric sensors for recording and transmitting the values of a number of psychophysical parameters of the driver.

The reason for this?

Ferrari believes - especially where high-performance vehicles are concerned - that most drivers overestimate their driving skill, and perhaps more importantly, their psychophysical condition.

The solution? A series of biometric sensors scattered around the cabin (in the roof lining, centre console, instrument binnacle, steering wheel and driver’s seat) operated by piezoelectrics. These sensors will enable  perpetual evaluation the driver’s eye blink rate, skin surface temperature, blood pressure and level of perspiration.

Collating the data, these various sensors are to interact with Ferrari’s ESP and traction control system, reining in a nervous driver, whilst conversely allowing a driver with biometrics indicating a low level of anxiety more leeway and less intervention from ESP. Basically, the less you sweat and more constant your blinking is, the more Ferrari's ESP system will let you take liberties with the car.

Biometric driven alertness technologies are currently in use by Mercedes-Benz in the S-Class. In the S-Class though, the feature is purely calibrated to guard against a weary driver falling asleep. Ferrari’s application of biometric technology will aim to safely enhance the on-the-limit driving experience.

Currently in its patent and development phase this new technology is expected to be refined in a circuit racing environment first, before being rolled out in production cars.

The interface between man and machine would appear to soon become seamless.

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