Sensors inside cars could soon monitor drivers for signs of distraction or tiredness, alerting them before an accident occurs as a result.

The technology is being developed by an Australian startup called Seeing Machines, which has pioneered a dashboard mounted camera that monitors a driver's head position, facial expression, and blinking rate. Capturing sixty frames per second, the data collected by the camera is then analyzed by software to determine the driver's alertness.

"Distracted drivers kill nearly 10 people each day in the United States and injure 1,150 more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The cameras are already installed on some professional vehicles, like massive mining trucks weighing 450 tons. The job of transporting minerals requires long, boring shifts and drivers can easily give themselves to distraction.

When the cameras detect a dozing or distracted driver, they send a signal to an onboard computer which vibrates the driver's seat, bringing their attention back to the road ahead of them.

Using heavy industry to hone the device will bring it to the consumer market more quickly, says the company, which is already at work with Jaguar on its F-Type model.

The technology could bridge an important gap in bringing self-driving cars to market. When technologists can better control the attention of human drivers, cars can be made autonomous on relatively safe stretches of road and control returned to humans when more precise handling is required.

For more on the future of autonomous cars, here is Big Think's interview with Brad Templeton, software designer and entrepreneur at Singularity University:

 

 

Read more at MIT Technology Review

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