Developments to Watch
SMART CAR SEATS THAT MEET POTHOLES HALFWAY
TO SMOOTH OUT SOME OF
life's littler bumps, engineer Farid M. L. Amirouche of the University of Illinois at Chicago has developed a seat for people who spend too much time on the long and winding road.
News of every bump and pothole is relayed by electronic sensors in the automobile's suspension system to an on-board computer, which instantly compares the data with mathematical models developed by Amirouche. The computer's microprocessor then issues orders to motorized actuators underneath the driver's seat to absorb the shock before it reaches the driver. Smoothing out highway jolts will cost about $300 a seat, says Amirouche, who is talking to Sears, Northrop, and other interested companies.
Meanwhile, Amirouche is forging ahead in the quest for greater driver comfort. In the works: a system that compensates for the way road bumps affect the upper body. The system uses seat belt sensors and dashboard lasers to measure changes in the driver's head and body orientation.EDITED BY RUTH COXETER