Emerging car technology may keep drowsy drivers awake at the wheel
Technologies like those that gauge eyelid position and eye-blink rate will be required in European vehicles as of 2022. This will increase safety by keeping drivers alert because these technologies are designed to prevent drowsy driving crashes.
The tech works by using a combination of cameras, artificial intelligence, alerts and an algorithm established using recordings of real driving situations, according to CNN Business.
CNN cites the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union. They said 30 percent of crashes are because of distractions like cellphone use, smoking, eating and music, and 20 percent are because of fatigue.
The World Health Organization’s global status report on road safety in 2018 said 1.35 million people die each year in traffic crashes.
How does technology prevent drowsy driving?
Bosch, the German engineering and technology company, has developed the eyelid monitoring system that detects drowsy and distracted drivers.
The information that the technology gathers is intended to recognize if a driver is getting tired. It can tell because the frequency of eyelids opening and closing gets much slower, Bosch spokeswoman Annett Fischer said.
The form of the alert will depend on the automakers. It could be a sound, a light, slowing down the car or even a vibrating steering wheel. They'll adapt the system according to their brand and their consumers, she said.
Australia-based company Seeing Machines debuted its driver monitoring technology in the 2018 Cadillac CT6. That system determines a driver’s state of attention by measuring head orientation and eyelid movements and a light-flashing alert system, according to the company.
Swedish company Smart Eye Automotive Solutions has developed a system that studies a person’s eye, face and head movements for Geely, one of China's biggest carmakers.
Privacy concerns regarding the new technology
Privacy and over-reliance are among issues with car technology that may keep drowsy drivers awake at the wheel. The camera-based driver monitoring systems collect large amounts of personal data on the driver and passengers.
According to Bosch, data collected by its system would only be evaluated by software in the car itself. The data won't be saved nor passed onto Bosch or third parties. The automaker would need consent from the driver before storing any of the data, Fischer said.
Supporters said letting these systems do all the work could be a danger. Drivers still need to take responsibility for being alert and concentrating on driving, they said.
The World Health Organization said road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people between the ages of 5-29. Pedestrians, motorcyclists and bike riders disproportionately bear the burden.
Some safe-driving technology is required in the United States. Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane departure alerts are among features recommended but not required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Rear-view video systems are NHTSA requirements as of May 2018. When a driver shifts a vehicle into reverse, the system shows an image of the area behind the vehicle. The image is shown either in the dashboard or in a small display in the rearview mirror.
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