General Motors seeks technology to measure drivers' mental health

General Motors has filed a patent application for technology to measure drivers' mental stability - ConsumerAffairs

Wait – they’ll call in a therapist if they think we’re driving funny?

First, Ford decided it had plans to develop a way to lock out vehicle owners if they were late on their car payments. Then, it was discovered that automakers are monitoring things like your sexual activity.

Now, General Motors has applied for a patent that would take the monitoring of drivers to a whole new level. In GM’s patent application, it lays out a system that would analyze your behavior while you're driving and if it didn’t think you were being safe enough, it could have the car take over and do the driving for you.

In more official language, the patent application describes a "wellbeing system configured for assessing a mental wellbeing of a driver while driving the vehicle and deploying a countermeasure in response to a mindfulness level of the driver being beyond a desired range.” 

In other words, one false move and you might be walking home.

What's considered unsafe?

“What's considered unsafe behavior depends at least somewhat on how you drive. The system first records data points to establish a profile of your driving habits. It then uses this information as a baseline to decide when you're driving erratically,” AutoBlog’s Ronan Glon explains.

“For example, it detects your stop-start frequency, hard braking, hard accelerating, hard cornering, and excessive honking. Existing technology enables some of these features: The system knows whether you're obeying traffic signs, whether you're tailgating, and how strong of a grip you've got on the steering wheel.”

Where reason meets ridiculousness is that if the system thinks you’re driving weirdly, it can go as far as asking you to undergo a “mental health exercise" or even pick up the phone itself (well, not the car, but someone at GM) and call in a “trained advisor” to offer you some “therapy.” 

Glon says that General Motors is keeping quiet on explaining its reasons or when it hopes to launch this technology in its vehicles.

“Keep in mind that a patent application isn't a guarantee that the technology it describes will see the light at the end of a production line,” he noted. 

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