A study conducted by Ford Motor Co. shows that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost a sense of well-being and emotional fulfillment more so than many other activities, including kissing.
The study measured “buzz moments,” peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness, as volunteers cheered on their favorite football team, watched a gripping “Game of Thrones” episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.
Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss.
Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford Europe brought the research to life with the one-of-a-kind Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customized Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior.
For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver — analyzed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum — produces animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car.
Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, are looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’s emotions. As part of the EU-funded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions, as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue, providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.
“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Marcel Mathissen, a research scientist at Ford of Europe, in a release. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and, importantly, healthier driving."