A number of carmakers offer features like a camera located inside the vehicle, which helps monitor the driver and set off alerts whenever sleepiness is detected. Researchers are now looking for further use of these cameras to help provide a safer semi-autonomous driving experience.
Researchers Look for More Use of the In-Car Camera
According to the story by Gizmodo, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have reportedly developed an even smarter camera system in-car that would help them figure out what the driver is actually doing. This would then potentially improve the safety of semi-autonomous driving features.
As of the moment, there still isn't a publicly available self-driving system capable of handling every road situation on its own. Certain unplanned interruptions, just like accidents or constructions, and even driving down a crowded downtown section within a large city, would most usually require the driver to still take control of the wheel.
Aside from semi-autonomous vehicles, autonomous vehicles are also picking up the pace. Certain countries like Germany are now passing legislation for autonomous vehicles to drive even without having a driver present.
In an ideal world, the semi-autonomous vehicle's driver would still need to always be paying attention to the road and is ready to step in whenever they need to manually take control of the vehicle. There is always a chance, however, that an autonomous system will still hand over the vehicle's controls while the driver is distracted by maybe a phone call or drinking coffee, which could potentially set up a dangerous situation.
Use of In-Car Cameras
Those particular situations are what prompted researchers coming from the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploration to actually take the capabilities of certain in-car cameras even further. Instead of just providing alerts whenever a driver feels sleepy, the new system will use AI-powered image recognition in order to construct some sort of digital skeleton of the driver looking like a stick figure doodle.
Aside from being a representation of the current pose, this digital skeleton will provide the system enough details needed to interpret what the driver is doing. Additional object recognition would also keep tabs on the location of certain items like coffee cups or smartphones. Studies have actually pointed towards self-driving cars being safer than human-driven cars. This, of course, is still up for further deductions.
Whenever the two systems are reportedly paired, a vehicle is then able to determine whether a driver is paying attention to the roar or if they are distracted with activities like eating, texting, or maybe talking with other passengers. Through keeping tabs on the driver, a semi-autonomous driver will be able to determine how distracted they could be and even how long it could take them to return their focus to driving in order for the car to know when to give back the control of the vehicle to them.
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Written by Urian B.