World-first: Abarth trials facial recognition technology to measure driver and passenger enjoyment

posted on 03/11/2022

Performance car brand, Abarth, has become the first manufacturer to trial facial recognition technology to better understand the emotions experienced when in its car.

Working in partnership with the world-renowned Loughborough University, Abarth carried out the experiment to discover the differing emotions experienced by the driver and passenger.

Driving an Abarth F595, 595 Esseesse and 595 Competizione, participants were put through driving challenges including hot laps, precision driving tasks, and chase scenarios at Mallory Park, Leicestershire. Emotions including happiness, excitement, and fear were then measured as passengers were driven by professional drivers.

The results showed the most prominent feeling during a hot lap was happiness, both when behind the wheel (31.8%) and as a passenger (35.4%).

When driven by professional drivers who pushed the car to its full potential, participants experienced short bursts of fear and shock (11.9%), contributing to a thrilling track day experience.

State-of-the-art facial recognition technology was used alongside heart rate sensors - Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Photoplethysmography (PPG)* - allowing Abarth to accurately detect an array of emotions among individuals.

The data was then analysed using DeepFace Python library and Facial Emotion Recognition library.

Reader in Digital Health, Dr Dale Esliger at Loughborough University, who led the trial, said: “The constellation of biometric equipment that we used allowed us to accurately detect an array of emotions that were experienced when driver’s and passenger’s get into an Abarth, while detecting the most prominent emotion during the respective driving activities.

“Research within this remit is limited, however, I suspect it will be an area within the automotive industry that will continue to be explored, as manufacturers strive to improve the driving experiences of their cars.”

Greg Taylor, Fiat and Abarth, UK Managing Director, added: “We always knew anecdotally that the levels of joy our cars bring to the driver and passengers, but now we have some preliminary data from one of the world's leading sport universities to back that up.

“Our products are not only designed to excite drivers on the road, but they’re also perfect track day cars too.”

Starting from the 595 for those who want to enter the Abarth world, all Abarth’s offer performance, adrenaline and excitement when on the road.  One of Abarth’s most distinctive features has always been its sound with people hearing an Abarth before you see it. With Koni rear suspension, the driver feels more connected to the road giving a sporty driving experience and superior control over performance.

For more information about the Abarth range, please visit here

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