Scientists at Oxford University are working with Denso, a Japanese car maker, to design vehicles with tactile warning alarms built in to the seat, seatbelt, steering wheel and foot pedals.

The aim is to send vibrations to sensitive parts of a driver's body so that they can be warned of possible danger within a fraction of a second of it being detected by the car's computer.

Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford, said the sense of touch has not been exploited by car makers before and yet touch is a key aspect of human awareness.

"We need something else other than sound and I think touch is the really exciting thing to work on," Dr Spence said.

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