Available Technology

Haptic Seat for Fuel Ecomony: A new method for providing feedback to drivers of vehicles in order to maximize fuel efficiency through improved driving habits

Today’s vehicles provide feedback to the driver on a wide variety of vehicle or driver characteristics. Some of the information provided includes: speed, temperatures, tire pressure, radio, GPS, cell phone controls, trip monitors, and fuel consumption. The majority of the current systems are visual providing data on an already crowded instrument cluster. In order to realize the benefits of this information, the driver has to consciously take their eyes off the road to view the data. The more frequently the data is reviewed, the better the driver can adjust to changing conditions, however, doing so can take the driver’s attention away from operating the vehicle in a safe manner. Studies have shown that differences in driving style can cause a 20% variation in fuel economy, making improvements in driver feedback an area that can realize significant real world fuel economy gains. Using a seat equipped to provide non-visual feedback to the driver enables the presentation of continuous, real-time information on fuel economy without having to divert attention from traffic and road conditions.
Through the use of a haptic device embedded in a vehicle driver’s seat or support structure, a driver can receive continual feedback due to their constant contact with the seat. The feedback delivered to the driver can in the way of vibrations or in the form of a speaker in which amplitude, frequency, and waveform could be adjusted and tuned. Because of the ability to fine tune the signals, it would be possible to provide feedback on multiple driver/vehicle parameters beyond merely fuel economy, limited only by the operator’s ability to discern the differences. For instance, an unpleasant vibration could be provided when the fuel economy is poor and the driving style continues or, if fuel economy worsens, the vibration could change in frequency or amplitude to prompt a change in driving performance. While the system is designed to help mitigate undesirable driving habits, it can also indicate preferred behavior by delivering positive feedback to the vehicle operator. The system is designed such that it can be integral to the seat or support structure, and therefore incorporated by the OEMs. It could also be designed to be portable, enabling aftermarket installation or allowing the device to be transported between vehicles, for use in driver training programs as one example.
provides continuous feedback -helps maximize fuel economy -adaptable for many feedback applications -non-distractive (P)
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