Listening to music, and a passion for driving, are two factors that make South Africans better drivers, according to an international emotion-tracking study conducted by Shell and Goldsmiths, a college at the University of London.
Shell South Africa and Goldsmiths announced the results of its new ground-breaking emotion tracking research at the recent Shell V-Power SEFAC Experience Day at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit north of Johannesburg.
Observing diverse driving conditions from three continents across the globe, the study used a combination of the latest wearable emotion tracking devices with chatbot technology, GPS, as well as weather and traffic information and personality questionnaires, to give the most complete picture of what drivers are experiencing on the road. Nearly 3 000 drivers are participating in the study across 10 countries.
In South Africa, the findings revealed that despite intense traffic conditions across the country, it’s not all doom and gloom. Journey times of those studied in South Africa proved to be shorter than motorists in Europe and Asia, averaging 27 minutes per trip verses up to 40 minutes in the Netherlands and 60 minutes in the Philippines. South African motorists in the study saved more time on the road than motorists in Asia at an average speed of 35km/h, compared with just 14km/h in Malaysia and 18km/h in the Philippines.
The study uncovered the tactics that South African motorists are using to remain focused and calm on the roads, and an overall high-performance mindset amongst the nation’s drivers:
Move to the music: drivers who listen to music achieved the strongest driver performance scores. Similarly, drivers who made a conscious effort to relax while driving listening music and other mindfulness techniques performed best behind the wheel.
Always look on the bright side: drivers that displayed a high-performance, optimistic mindset and are full of life achieved the highest driving performance and smoothest journeys.
Family comes first: who we drive with determines how we drive. Drivers who reported to have children, family members or friends in the car used less harsh driving techniques and achieved higher smooth trip scores.
Rural vs urban drivers: motorists in rural areas had the highest performance and smooth scores compared with city slickers.
Passion pays off: drivers who reported a passion or enjoyment of driving paid more attention to their performance on the road, and achieved higher performance scores.
Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The nature of this study allows us to observe not only the impact of external factors such as weather and traffic on drivers whilst on the road, but also the internal factors that we as drivers have more control over.”
“Looking at drivers in South Africa, we can see that the highest performing drivers displayed an overall sense of positivity and optimism, making a conscious effort to relax and stay chilled behind the wheel by listening to music.”
Brand, Fuels and Customer Experience Manager at Shell SA Frans Maluleke said: “This experiment was an interesting and valuable insight for us about our valuable customers and the South African market in general.”
“We understand that drivers face many challenges on their daily commutes. Our aim is to utilise the findings of the research to enhance the customer experience and design offers that cater for their needs”, said Maluleke, “We are confident this is a step forward to our journey of becoming South Africa’s favourite forecourt retailer and to making customers life’s journeys better.”
Why sports cars make us feel good
Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.
The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite 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.
Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior.
Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU
“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”
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.
For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:
From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:
- High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
- 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
- 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs
Driver state research
Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded 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 Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”
|Activity||Buzz Moments *|
|Game of Thrones||1.5|
* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant
Car that sees round corners
Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.
Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.
Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”
Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.
AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.