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Toyota working on cars that can detect heart attacks

Toyota are working on a vehicle that can stop itself if the driver has a heart attack.

The car manufacturers are working with the University of Michigan to create a vehicle which can detect if a person is suffering from cardiac issues and bring the car to a halt to reduce the risk of any crashes as a result.

Michigan Medicine researcher Kayvan Najarian said: "Essentially, they showed me that a large number of traffic incidents are caused by medical conditions while driving, specifically cardiovascular events.

"Toyota discussed how they wanted to move towards technology that can monitor and analyze the physiology of the person driving and predict if they are going to have adverse cardiac events."

And the team behind the idea feel it is increasingly important to develop this type of device as the population ages and there are older people at the wheel.

Najarian added: "When we analysed crash statistics already reported by different agencies, we found that drivers 65 years of age and older have a lot of medical-related issues that are related to vehicle crashes.

"By 2030, there will be an increased number of older-age drivers, which could increase the number of medical events happening behind the wheel."

The idea to work on a device like this came when Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center got in touch with Najarian and his research team to see what could be done about predicting a heart attack at the wheel before it actually happened.

He shared: "The study took about seven months, and we identified the challenges, potential solutions, hardware options and algorithmic approaches that could be potentially used. But we concluded that cardiac events were conditions that are more feasible to detect with technology in the vehicle."

However, there are also challenges that will present themselves including getting rid of the 'white noise' that could interfere with the monitor.

Najarian explained: "There are actually quite a few obstacles that were identified during the initial grant. You can't have clinical-grade monitoring devices in the vehicle.

"You need to use a high-quality monitoring device in the vehicle that, despite all the in-vehicle noise, could reliably register the driver's ECG without being large and obtrusive. It's going to have to be different than what you would expect to experience in a clinical or hospital setting."

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