Here is a question for you: Which activity is just as stressful as skydiving? The answer, according to data from a Audi and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, is driving in chaotic urban traffic.
Audi has teamed up with the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory to examine a wide range of measurements aimed at quantifying driver stress on the road today. Named the Road Frustration Index (RFI), the index looks at individual factors that lead to driver frustration and helps give insight into possible solutions for safer and more enjoyable driving.
To help compile the index, MIT SENSEable City Laboratory is using skin conductance sensors, facial/body tracking, and environmental recordings to compile data. From there, the results are compared with other daily activities such as taking a test or playing sports to make the end findings more accurate.
"In addition to daily driving conditions, we are measuring stress levels under a variety of daily activities: at home, in the office, while having breakfast or attending a lecture at MIT. We found that certain driving situations can be one of the most stressful activities in our lives," said Kael Greco, project leader, MIT SENSEable City Laboratory.
"Cities, blanketed with networks and digital devices, are developing new forms of intelligence. The same is happening inside our cars, which are increasingly filled with different kinds of connected sensors. From the intersection of these two trends will emerge tomorrow’s mobility systems–starting from the next generation of autonomous vehicles,” said Professor Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory.
"By working with MIT to identify stress points for drivers, Audi is able to anticipate the needs for future mobility. Audi has worked with MIT on other projects as part of a strategy to develop new technology and approaches with leading universities to better understand the conditions that lead to driver stress, and subsequently, to driver enjoyment,” said Filip Brabec, Director of Product Management for Audi of America.
If you're interested in the Road Frustration Index or want to see some video footage of the research, you can visit the Road Frustration Index website.