Distracted driving, often the result of using mobile phones and other technologies on the road, is a growing problem. Accounting for approximately 30 % of all road accidents, distracted drivers are responsible for 21 deaths and 111 injuries every day in Europe. In addition to strict rules and harsh penalties, the problem of distracted driving is also being addressed through technology. For example, many new vehicles now come equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADASs), which aim to enhance driver safety. Unfortunately, most of the currently available systems have limited use when it comes to distracted driving. “Most ADASs are too slow at triggering the correct driver response to an impeding hazard. Their warning sounds and vibrations often end up being more of a distraction than a help,” says Marina Crifar, Communications Manager at Actronika, a French company specialising in creating human-machine interface solutions using patented haptic technology. “Moreover, today’s ADASs are extremely expensive and complex, making it difficult to integrate them into vehicles, and thus unsuitable for mainstream production.” To fill this market need, Actronika has developed Tactronik, an effective ADAS that can be easily integrated into any vehicle. Now, thanks to the support of EU funding, the company is ready to launch this life-saving device onto the global market.
A simple solution
As a plug-and-play device, Tactronik is simply inserted inside the driver’s seat. Once installed, it can predict impending hazards and provide the driver with intelligent alerts so he or she can immediately take preventative action. “Tactronik seamlessly connects to the vehicle’s ADAS sensors to deliver appropriate, attention-grabbing tactile sensations,” explains Crifar. “This is done using Actronika’s unique haptic technologies, thus eliciting fast, accurate driver responses.” Haptic technology, also known as 3D touch, is a technology that sends forces, vibrations or motions to the user in order to create an experience of touch. For example, by activating the seat’s actuators in a specific sequence tailored to each hazardous situation, Tactronik elicits an appropriate and intuitive reaction from the driver by instantly informing them of the nature of the alert via vibrotactile feedback. This awareness increases the coherence of the driver’s reactions to the dangerous condition and combats the deterioration of attentiveness, effectively mitigating the risk of car accidents and increasing driver safety.
Technically and economically viable
With the support of EU funding, Actronika tested the technical and economic viability of Tactronik. According to Crifar, the results are promising: “The project showed that Tactronik can cut the risk of car accidents in half – if not more. “Furthermore, Tactronik integration is 80 % more cost-effective than alternative ADASs, making it highly suitable for large-scale industrialisation.” Having opted to use a licence-based business model, Actronika is currently working to license the technology to both automobile and vehicle parts manufacturers. Although still a work in progress, a number of companies have already provided letters of intent, with numerous others expressing interest in Tactronik. “As we prepare for marketisation, we are working to fully optimise the Tactronik platform and finalise its design,” adds Crifar. “We are also establishing a distribution network with our automotive partners, which will ensure a streamlined market entry.”
Tactronik, Actronika, haptic technology, distracted driving, advanced driver-assistance system, ADAS, driver safety