Ford is developing a car seat that can measure a driver's heart activity – and detect if he or she is having a cardiac arrest.

Not only this, but the system, currently being worked on by the firm's Aachen facility in Germany, will also be able to alert authorities to such a medical emergency.

The system uses six heartbeat monitors placed around the driver's seat, which detect if the motorist is in distress. These electrodes work in much the same way as an electro-cardiogram (ECG).

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH)Aachen University is working alongside Ford’s European Innovation Centre to bring the technology to market.

The ECG is being created to work with bodies of all shapes and sizes, and will even be able to tell the driver if their heart rate has increased before they know themselves.

Ford was reportedly inspired to develop the system by the ageing US population. However, many countries are experiencing an increasing elderly demographic – in which heart attacks become more likely – so the system could well be rolled out in Europe and elsewhere.

Professor Steffen Leonhardt of the RWTH Aachen University said, "With increasing life expectancy meaning higher numbers of people and therefore drivers at risk of heart diseases, the ability to monitor hearts at the wheel would offer massive benefits in terms of health and road safety, both for the user and the wider public."

The Daily Mail reported that the system may be ready to fit in Ford cars by 2020.

ECG technology may eventually sit alongside such astonishing inventions as driverless cars, suggesting that vehicles of the future will be ever more complex and thus, presumably, more challenging to fix when they go wrong. What will be the best car breakdown cover for such machines?

We’re betting it will start with an ‘s’.