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Asahi Kasei’s car that says ‘NO’ to drunk driving!  

In ipXchange’s second interview with Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) at CES 2024, Guy joins Chris in the car for a demonstration of another of AKM’s sensing solutions that was made in collaboration with one of its OEM partners. Last time AKM was saving babies in cars. This time, it’s saving everyone in other cars too! 

As Chris explains, the number one automotive problem today is drunk driving, with over 30% of traffic accidents linked to this behaviour. Thanks to an in-cabin alcohol sensor, which monitors the overall environment inside the car, the car can detect the presence of ethanol and carbon dioxide in the exhale of the driver and passengers’ breaths. 

As shown on the car’s infotainment display, Chris’ breath, when blown towards a sensor positioned behind the steering wheel, causes a large spike in the amount of carbon dioxide detected within the cabin. In this first test, there is no change in the amount of ethanol detected. 

To simulate a bad decision to get behind the wheel, Chris then gets some hand sanitiser and blows the vapours towards the sensor, causing a huge spike in detected ethanol. 

It is clear that the combination of devices within the OEM-built sensor module makes for an ultra-sensitive solution to CO2 and alcohol detection that could prevent many accidents caused by excess alcohol consumption, thus saving lives. As Guy rightly points out, the applications of this technology are not just limited to automotive; industrial machinery is certainly an area where you cannot afford a system operator to be drunk. 

What is perhaps even more important is that this always-on sensor does not require directed human input to test the driver – there is no breathalyser tube to blow into. If a car can ‘refuse’ to start if the driver is drunk, a dangerously drunk driver is unlikely to be able to override any failsafe in such a system, resulting in safer roads for all. 

For those listening carefully, you will notice that no specific AKM components have been mentioned within this video. ipXchange has looked over AKM’s product line and can see various solutions – NIR LEDs, NIR sensors, LED drivers, Senseair sensing modules – that could play a part in creating this innovative design. In this eventuality, we have created a board page related to this specific video so that interested engineers can apply for consultation on how AKM made this magic happen – follow the link below. 

There’s still more coverage of AKM’s stand to come, so stay tuned, and as always… 

Keep designing! 

Asahi Kasei Microdevices In-Cabin Alcohol + CO2 Sensor Consultation

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