In the spirit of transparency, you won't find the words road rage anywhere within the 10 pages of this patent filing from General Motors. Titled "Vehicle Occupant Mental Wellbeing Assessment and Countermeasure Deployment," it focuses on a series of sensors and modules that evaluate what's happening in the car. Depending on the situation, it could activate various countermeasures to prevent "an undesirable situation" behind the wheel.

Similarly, the patent—which was filed in November 2022 but published on May 16—mentions the driver and other occupants within the vehicle as being under the purview of this proposed system. That said, one doesn't need to read between the lines to understand the bigger picture, especially when the patent description mentions telemetry monitoring for hard braking or acceleration, tailgating, horn use, and microphones for listening in on conversations within the cabin.

GM's short desciption of the system is one that assesses "a mental well-being of a driver while driving the vehicle and deploying a countermeasure in response to a mindfulness level of the driver being beyond a desired range." Later on, the patent language makes more specific references to the driver and "a plurality of passengers" being subjected to various negative stimuli that can induce stress. That's where the system steps in, using a bevy of sensors to monitor the vehicle's actions along with biometric sensors that observe the driver.

So if you're swerving, tailgating, and cussing up a storm, the system may decide your mental state isn't the best for driving and implement numerous steps to correct the situation. It starts with a simple alert, recommending an "exercise" like taking a deep breath. The next level recommends calling someone (using the vehicle's hands-free system of course) but the third level automatically calls a trained advisor to talk you down, like it or not.

The other proposed course of action—one that could be quite controversial—involves activating one or more advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) to remove the driver from the equation. The patent describes this as the ADAS being "configured to provide a level of autonomous vehicle control...such that a driver of the vehicle need not be actively involved in controlling one or more driving or other functions of the vehicle."

As with all patents, there's no guarantee that this idea will ever reach production. Driver alerts and phone calls are certainly doable, but larger questions about the forced activation of driver-assist systems could be an issue. In any case, keep your cool out there. Otherwise, your future vehicle could put you in time-out until you regain your senses.

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