General sleepiness and fatigue while on the road characterises drowsy driving. Its symptoms range from constant yawning, wandering thoughts, to total loss of focus. Drowsy drivers also experience “micro-sleeps” – drifting in and out of sleep for about 3 to 5 seconds without knowing it. And road mishaps happen in those moments where you lose concentration and awareness.
In Australia, drowsy driving causes 17% of road crashes. It also costs the country 2 billion dollars per year on health insurance, awareness campaigns, and R&D to improve road safety.
An AI-based Solution to Drowsy Driving
A lot of companies have already introduced technological advances to arrest the rise in drowsy driving accidents. They were successful in their own ways in progressing road safety. However, room for improvement still exists in this area.
This is where the Affectiva, an emerging tech company from Boston, and TomTom, an Amsterdam-based navigation app developer, come in.
What they did was integrate the former’s Automotive AI technology into the latter’s AmiGO navigation app. Through this innovation, they aim to monitor the driver’s level of drowsiness and distraction while driving and enact appropriate safety measures. This includes turning on alerts and taking the car off the road.
Automotive AI uses vehicle cameras and sensors to feed information to its In-Cabin Sensing (ICS) software. The technology then processes the data to determine the condition of drivers in real-time. If it finds the driver to be tired or distracted, a notification system turns on visual and audio alerts to “wake up” the person behind the wheel.
In addition, if the program sees that the driver remains on the same state, the AmiGO app automatically searches for locations where the driver can stop and recharge. The same screen that displays the route entered, whether in your head unit or mobile phone, also shows these “rest” locations and another cue warns the driver.
Aside from these features, Automotive AI can also make automatic prompts and suggestions to drivers. The program bases its action on the driving duration vis-à-vis the time to reach the destination entered on the app. For example, if in a long drive, the system may suggest multiple rest stops and even hotels. Meanwhile, for shorter drives, it may just recommend gas stations where the driver can grab a coffee and a quick snack.
Our Final Word
This next generation of road safety technology truly took it to the next level. However, with the statistics of road accidents due to drowsy driving, drastic and innovative measures really need to be taken to improve the numbers.
With every accident prevented with this program is another life saved. This is the most important lesson to take from here.