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Volvo Cars developing systems for Driver State Estimation; driver sensors

17 March 2014

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A sensor that is able to monitor in which direction the driver is looking, how open the eyes are, as well as head position and angle is part of Volvo Cars’ work on developing systems that can detect if a driver is tired or inattentive. The technology is based on a sensor installed in the dashboard and small LEDs that illuminate the driver with infrared light.The information can be used to adjust the action of safety systems to the driver’s condition. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars is researching systems that can recognize and distinguish whether a driver is tired or inattentive. By placing a sensor on the dashboard to monitor aspects such as in which direction drivers are looking, how open their eyes are, as well as their head position and angle, it is possible to develop precise safety systems that detect a driver’s state and are able to adjust the car accordingly.

The analysis of the driver’s state, known as Driver State Estimation, in which driver sensors play an important role, is a field that may be key to self-driving cars in the future, Volvo suggests. The car will need to be able to determine for itself whether the driver is capable of taking control when the conditions for driving autonomously are no longer present. A driver sensor could be of assistance in this.

This will enable the driver to be able to rely a bit more on their car, and know that it will help them when needed.

—Per Landfors, engineer at Volvo Cars and project leader for driver support functions

This also means that the car will ensure that it does not stray out of the lane or get too close to the car in front when the driver is not paying attention, as well as being able to wake a driver who is falling asleep.

Since the car is able to detect if a driver is not paying attention, safety systems can be adapted more effectively. For example, the car’s support systems can be activated later on if the driver is focused, and earlier if the driver’s attention is directed elsewhere.

—Per Landfors

Some of the current systems that can be included are Lane Keeping Aid, Collision warning with full auto brake and Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist.

The technology is based on a sensor mounted on the dashboard in front of the driver. Small LEDs illuminate the driver with infrared light, which is then monitored by the sensor. Infrared light is just outside the wavelengths that the human eye can see—i.e., the person behind the wheel doesn’t notice it at all.

Driver sensors are also opening up other possibilities. By monitoring eye movements, the car would be able to adjust both interior and exterior lighting to follow the direction in which the driver is looking. The car would also be able to adjust seat settings, for instance, simply by recognizing the person sitting behind the wheel.

This could be done by the sensor measuring between different points on the face to identify the driver, for example. At the same time, however, it is essential to remember than the car doesn’t save any pictures and nor does it have a driver surveillance function.

—Per Landfors

The technology is already installed in test vehicles. Volvo Cars is also conducting research together with partners including Chalmers University of Technology and Volvo AB to identify effective methods for detecting tiredness and inattention.

March 17, 2014 in Autonomous driving, Driver Assistance Systems, Sensors, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

2 things strike me:
If the car is in automatic mode and the driver falls asleep, it could detect this, and make strenuous attempts to wake him.
If the driver is using a handheld phone and crashes, there would be evidence of wrongdoing in the car. The driver might not want this (although the police certainly would).

You would have to make it so that it did not retain the last N minutes worth of images for forensic use - it is just too much an invasion of privacy to do so.

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