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Techno Chronicle | Driving while walking, why not…



The premise may seem strange, but it is nevertheless real. It is not so far away, the time when a driver will be able to find himself at the wheel of his car while having the impression of strolling on foot. At least that’s what the famous Jaguar Land Rover group is working on, which is currently developing an intelligent seat that aims to be revolutionary. We are talking here about the “Morphable Seat” (or, for us, the metamorphosable seat).

The car manufacturer is studying this technology to satisfy its new hobby, the optimal ergonomics it wishes to offer its customers. But here, we are aiming for mobility, since the metamorphosable seat under study is capable of simulating pelvic oscillation movements.

So, sitting behind the steering wheel and thanks to a series of motors, the driver of said Jaguar will feel slight movements. Light enough not to inconvenience the driver, but pronounced enough to trick his brain into thinking he’s walking. We’re talking about the driver’s seat right now, but the technology could just as easily be applied to the passenger seat.

The animated seat works with sensors that are hidden in the foam and allow the system to constantly adjust on long journeys. The sensors also make it possible to process information according to the morphology of each driver. Tailor-made, nothing less.


Illustration of the “Morphable Seat” technology, the metamorphosable seat

Health and security

But still, we can also foresee another beneficial effect of this technology, because in addition to simulating the pace of walking, the seat should logically avoid drowsiness, and therefore constitute an asset for road safety.

With this health and safety shift, we have to admit that Jaguar Land Rover is aiming just enough to correct, if only a little, our way of life that is far too sedentary. Because the lack of mobility has its effects. Not only does it increase the risk of muscle injury, but it often causes significant back pain. Drivers on long journeys who find themselves sitting for too long hours know what this is all about.

For the moment, the “Morphable Seat” is still at the conceptual stage, but everything indicates that in the vehicles of tomorrow, the travel experience will be drastically improved.

For my part, I can only welcome this new technology.

Having found myself behind the wheel more often than not in my career, I consider the seat of a car to be one of the most important parts, if not THE most important.

As a racing driver, for my part, I am lucky to have a seat that is completely molded to my body. This is the most comfortable and safe seat I have had the chance to experience. But it is quite different with the seats of our cars… And car manufacturers are well aware of this. Especially since to seduce customers, now, we no longer just talk about power and luxury. These years, health and comfort are key.

At the time of development

The convertible seat is a technology advanced by Jaguar Land Rover, but several manufacturers have looked into the question of seats in recent years and have developed, each with their own vision, some rather interesting concepts.

BMW has already unveiled its “Zero Gravity” seats, which focus on a Zen experience. All the driver has to do is apply light pressure to the seat for it to lie down and recline to a zero gravity position. But beware, at the same time, two other systems are triggered. First, there’s the interior lighting, which turns into soothing light mode, then a harmonious sound composition invades the space. I told you. Zen…

The French engineering company Faurecia, an expert in the production of automotive equipment, has partnered with NASA to develop the prototype of the “Active Wellness” seat.

This smart car seat is specifically designed to pamper stressed or tired drivers. Equipped with integrated biometric sensors, it monitors the driver’s heart and breathing rate to detect any state of stress or drowsiness. And if it detects a problem, what does it do? Either he sends air through his ventilation system, just to invigorate the tired subject, or he gives him massages. Energizing or relaxing, it depends.

For now, great minds are meeting and it’s time for development, especially for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars. We study the needs of the clientele and compete in skill to imagine the ideal seat for the car of the future.

It’s still too early to know which smart seats will make it to everyone’s vehicles, but these prototypes have something to make us dream a bit. It’s hard not to think about it now while sitting in the seat of our car.

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