Honda and Hitachi claim they have developed a breathalyzer device that can prevent a vehicle's engine from starting if it determines a driver has been drinking.
Still in the prototype phase, the device can be integrated into smart keys, measuring alcohol levels within three seconds and acting as an ignition interlock to prevent a vehicle from starting when it detects that the driver is intoxicated.
The companies say the device is tamper-proof, and offers "distinct advantages" compared to other ignition interlock systems, namely that the portable, integrated device allows a driver to measure alcohol levels prior to entering the vehicle.
Currently, other ignition interlock systems require breathalyzer tests to be performed inside the vehicle.
In addition, the companies claim the device can distinguish between exhaled human breath and alternate gases and detect alcohol levels simultaneously.
The sensor that does both jobs measures just five square millimetres, according to the companies.
Hitachi and Honda are aiming to commercialize the technology and plan to continue collecting data through future validation tests.