many of us have experienced a momentary loss of attention while driving a car?
It could have been a micro seconds shut eye, it could have been a distraction
where you may have taken your eyes off the road like looking at your mobile
ringing or your kid doing something in the car, or it could have been even
trying to hook up a seat belt that has been left undone.
One must keep in mind
that when a person is driving at 50 kph, a vehicle will cover 42 meters
completely unsupervised if the driver dozes off or looks at their smartphone
for just three seconds. That’s a lot of distance for a mishap to occur.
the many things that happen inside a vehicle can have far-reaching
consequences. To avert critical driving situations and possibly also accidents,
it is planned that cars will in the future use their sensors not simply to
monitor the road but also the driver and other passengers.
this purpose, Bosch has developed a new interior monitoring system featuring
cameras and artificial intelligence (AI). “If the car knows what its driver and
occupants are doing, driving will become safer and more convenient,” says
Harald Kroeger, a member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management. The
Bosch system may go into production in 2022. In that year, the EU will make
safety technology that for example warns drivers of drowsiness and distraction
a standard feature in new vehicles. The EU Commission expects that, by 2038,
their new safety requirements for vehicles will save more than 25,000 lives and
help prevent at least 140,000 severe injuries. By keeping an eye on what is
happening inside the car, it is hoped that a fundamental problem of
self-driving cars will be solved. If responsibility for driving is to be
transferred to the driver again following an automated drive on the freeway,
say, the car needs to be sure that the driver is neither sleeping, nor reading
the newspaper, nor writing e-mails on their smartphone.
A smart camera constantly monitors the
50 kph, a vehicle will cover 42 meters completely unsupervised if the driver
dozes off or looks at their smartphone for just three seconds. Many people
underestimate the associated risk. International studies state that nearly one
in ten accidents is caused by distraction or drowsiness. This has prompted
Bosch to develop an interior monitoring system that detects and alerts to this
danger and provides driving assistance. A camera integrated in the steering
wheel detects when drivers’ eyelids are getting heavy, when they are
distracted, and when they turn their head toward their passenger or the rear
seats. Thanks to AI, the system draws the right conclusions from this
information: it warns inattentive drivers, recommends a break if they are
getting tired, or even reduces the speed of the vehicles – depending on the
automaker’s wishes, and also on legal requirements.
and AI will turn the vehicle into a life-saver,” Kroeger says. To achieve this,
Bosch engineers have used intelligent image-processing algorithms and machine
learning to teach the system to understand what the person in the driving seat
is actually doing. To take the example of driver drowsiness, the system is
trained using recordings of real driving situations and, on the basis of
recordings of eyelid position and eye-blink rate, learns how tired the driver
really is. This allows it to give an alert that is appropriate to the
situation, and to use the driver assistance systems to intervene. Warning
systems that sound the alert in the case of distraction and drowsiness will be
so important in the future that NCAP, the European New Car Assessment Program,
will include them in the roadmap for the Euro NCAP assessment for vehicle
safety by 2025. On the subject of monitoring, only the software in the vehicle
itself evaluates the information provided by the interior monitoring system –
the information is neither saved nor passed on to third parties.
Like a relay race: responsibility for steering passes from car to
driver and back
the latest when cars start driving automatically, it is obvious how important
it is that they understand their drivers. Once driving is automated, cars will
drive along freeways without driver intervention. However, they will also have
to be able to hand back control to their drivers in tricky situations such as
construction zones, or when the exit ramp is drawing near. Drivers have to be
able to safely take the wheel again at any time during the automated driving
phase, and the camera makes sure they don’t fall asleep. If their eyes remain
closed for a prolonged period, an alarm is sounded. The system also interprets
camera recordings to establish what drivers are currently doing, and how ready
they are to respond. The transfer of driving responsibility is then timed
accordingly. “Bosch driver observation will be essential for safe automated
driving,” Kroeger says.
When the car keeps its camera eyes open
the new Bosch system keeps its eye not only on the driver, but also on all the
other passengers, whether next to or behind the driver. For this purpose, a
camera mounted above or below the rear-view mirror monitors the entire
passenger compartment. It notices whether children on the rear seats have
carelessly unfastened their seat belts, and warns the driver. If someone sitting
in the back is leaning too far forward, at an angle, or with their feet up on
the seat next to them, the airbags and belt tensioner will not be able to
protect them properly in an accident. The interior monitoring camera can tell
what position they are sitting in and set the airbags and belt tensioner to
ensure the best possible protection. The interior monitoring system also
prevents the passenger-seat airbag from being deployed if a baby’s carrycot is
on the seat. On the subject of children, it is a sad fact that parked vehicles
can be a death trap for them. In the United States in 2018, they claimed the
lives of more than 50 children (source: KidsAndCars.org), either because they
had been left in the car for a short while or had clambered in unnoticed. The
new Bosch system can recognizes this danger, and warn parents in a flash by
sending a message to their smartphone. In an emergency, it also can alert the
emergency services. As the Hot Cars Act currently being debated in the United
States shows, legislators are interested in technology solutions to address
A camera for more convenience
new Bosch system also means more driving convenience. The interior monitoring
camera can tell who is about to drive and adjust the rear-view mirror, seating
position, steering-wheel height, and infotainment system to preset personal
preferences. And the camera can also be used for eye- and hand-gesture control
of the infotainment system.
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