Subaru To Get Rid Of Tailgating Forever With New Driver Assistance Feature

Scoop / 32 Comments

The new invention could help prevent road rage and increase safety.

Our internet sleuths here at CarBuzz have discovered that a new Subaru patent has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, wherein a system for helping to prevent tailgating has been described.

Before we discuss how it works, let's run through some of the necessary hardware. Cameras, radar and LiDAR sensors, GPS sensors, intervehicle communicators, navigation systems, and human-machine interfaces are all necessary for Subaru's concept to work, and as you might expect, a means of data collection is also imperative.

The patent suggests that all of these components be combined to analyze the driving behavior of a given vehicle and those surrounding it, as well as the emotional responses of drivers to a given scenario, and to use this data to teach all how to be better.


Another component that could be used in this patent is some sort of biosensor that can detect a driver's heart rate or breathing. This could be something as simple as a smartwatch or something as nifty as a heartbeat sensor in the seatbelt or steering wheel.

Using biosensors, cameras, facial recognition technology, and other methods, the system aims to detect the emotional response of the driver in a vehicle to a situation and the responses of drivers around them. By so doing, Subaru would be able to tell when a driver is anxious about a tailgating vehicle (or other stressful driving scenarios) and when a tailgating vehicle's driver is frustrated or angry by the driving actions of the first vehicle.

This is where AI and machine learning come into play, with a database of recorded reactions and responses to various driving scenarios being used to correlate poor driving maneuvers with increased emotional stress.


Using LiDAR, radar, optical, and other sensors, a future Subaru Crosstrek could determine that a vehicle is approaching at a rapid pace from the rear and that there is an increased risk of being tailgated. It would be able to detect the flashing of high beams and the honking of horns too.

The car would then activate a warning chime and/or image to inform the driver of the issue and suggest what action to take. If the driver is operating the vehicle well below the speed limit, the car could tell them to accelerate, but it would also determine if there is an open lane alongside the vehicle and could recommend a lane change. In some situations, the car could even suggest pulling onto the shoulder if the area is wide enough to allow the tailgating vehicle to pass.


Obviously, a lot of data is needed for something like this to work safely, and sensors alone may not be able to provide all of it. To that end, the patent suggests proffering a questionnaire at the end of a drive. Herein, the car could ask the driver what emotions they felt during the trip and to what degree. It can also ask what the tailgated driver expected the tailgater to do.

If this, historical driving data, and other information all point to an inexperienced driver, the system could then recommend that the driver readjust regular routes and departure times to avoid high-stress driving scenarios or times with a high average traffic volume.

If unavoidable, the car could provide messages like, "This is an area where vehicles tend to travel at speeds largely different from those of the other vehicles traveling on an adjacent lane," following it up with advice like, "Be careful to sufficiently accelerate upon passing."


In addition, the car could provide prompts while driving to help a person make a lane change at the right time, accelerate at a suitable rate, and avoid unnecessary braking. Basically, it wants to teach a bad driver how to get better, something that Ferrari is exploring from a completely different angle.

On the other side of the coin, the car can also ask the above questions of an angry or frustrated driver, thus learning what level of annoyance a given scenario creates and what the tailgating driver expected the tailgated driver to do at the moment.

The patent makes allowance for the recording of images to show a driver an incident in greater detail, helping them visualize what they did wrong or what happened when they got irritated. It could even provide a summary after each drive, offering messages of advice on what a person did right or wrong in a particular scenario and how to get better.


For those new to a country or state where traffic laws differ, this tech can be very insightful, but its best benefit would likely be to new and inexperienced drivers.

Those who have privacy concerns may not like this next bit: the patent suggests collecting license plate data when a vehicle tailgates or is driving too slowly. Presumably, the good notion behind this is to notify an owner of what they did wrong remotely and recommend a change to how they drive, but the specter of Big Brother looms large.

Analyzing traffic data, capturing emotional responses, and suggesting appropriate reactions to high-stress scenarios will require an intricate network of hardware and software, but if every car had tech like this, we'd all be safer drivers.

Don't believe me? Look at the efficacy of the seatbelt gong. An NHTSA study published in 2005 showed a marked increase in seatbelt use following the introduction of warning chimes. This tech could do just the same for lane hogging and tailgating.


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