New Technology To Alert Sleepy Car Drivers

Dr. Purushothaman
September 12, 2013

Driving can be tiring at times, but being fatigued whilst driving can lead to fatal consequences. It is estimated some 100,000 crashes a year are caused by over-tired drivers in the US, and fatigue may cause some 18% of all fatal collisions. Research shows conclusively that drowsiness is the largest single cause of road traffic accidents.
It is advisable that drivers rest for every four hours they drive and pull over for a break when they are tired. Sometimes, however, this is not possible. Traditional remedies for droopy eyes have ranged from opening a window for cold air, drinking caffeine or listening to loud music. Scientists across the globe have been hard at work finding novel solutions for keeping a fatigued driver awake.
Saab was the first manufacturer to tackle the problem, unveiling an infra-red monitoring system, the Attention Warning System, shown as a development project in 2007. Since then Mercedes has produced the Attention Assist system, standard on some models. This system relates to an individual driver profile it stores on its computer and compares that to data from the car's sensors, monitoring the individual's state of alertness.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT) in Ilmenau, Germany have developed a system for alerting a tired driver by tracking their eye movement and issuing a warning before they nod off. The Eyetracker was recently unveiled at a vision-industry trade fair in Stuttgart. The system records a 3-D image of the driver, monitoring the eye's line of vision and if it detects that the eye is closed for too long a period, an alarm sounds alerting the driver. This system is small and cheaper than many similar systems aimed at alerting sleepy drivers.
Another similar solution is the Driver Fatigue Monitor by Attention Technologies Inc. USA. This is a dashboard mounted camera that measures the frequency with which a driver closes his eyes, known as PERCLOS, Percentage of Eye Closure. If the camera senses that the eyes have been shut longer then a pre-defined period a warning alarm is sounded to rouse the driver.
A slightly different solution by Danish company ASP Technology is known as the Anti-Sleep Pilot. The ASP is a dashboard device that will ask the driver to respond to tests after a period of uninterrupted driving. These simple tests are designed to measure how alert you are, with the computer timing your response speed. If you fail to respond in time, the Anti-Sleep Pilot will advise you to stop driving and rest.
All these systems have one thing in common: they help a drowsy driver avoid a potentially fatal accident. That said, even when you're wide awake, being a safe driver can help prevent accidents which can prevent you having to pay for costly repairs, such as a car window replacement.

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