Abarth carried out the experiment to discover the differing emotions experienced by the driver and passenger.
Driving two Abarth vehicles, 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 at speed by driven by professional drivers, 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.
Dr Dale Esliger, a Reader in Digital Health from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, led the trial. He 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.”