Auto Tech

Mazda patent bets that fun roads will prevent driver distraction

And it feels like it’ll be more effective than just jamming a phone signal or hiding notifications.

Mazda puts forth the most Mazda solution imaginable to end distracted driving: fun!

Plenty of companies want to help curb the rising phenomenon of distracted driving, and while some want to remove you further from the driving process, Mazda intends to do just the opposite. In a patent filing from Jan. 2, Mazda proposes a novel means of maintaining driver focus using that uses infrastructure that is already in place -- curvy roads.

The Mazda system would use vehicle sensors to detect the driver's state of focus, and when it catches your attention slipping, it will provide navigation instructions to a more entertaining road, as well as driving tips to make the experience more engaging.

It's hard to imagine any distracted driving flow chart being more "Mazda" than this.

Mazda


The patent filing shows that the vehicle would monitor driver inputs to the steering, throttle and brakes for the hallmarks of "enthusiastic driving" and store the location information of these roads in a database that it could then recall and suggest when a driver's attention is flagging. The system would use internal cameras to help assess a driver's level of distraction, which would result in a score. This score would trigger one of several variations of the Driving Assistance Program.

As people who love to drive simply for the sake of driving, this is the kind of thoughtful application of technology that we at Roadshow want to see. We don't want to be removed from the process of getting from A to B; we are always seeking out ways to be more a part of it.

This is absolutely the kind of solution we'd expect from the company that designed the Miata, and we hope the company will take it beyond a simple patent and into production, though manufacturers often file patents simply to keep other companies from taking advantage of ideas.