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Driver Alertness Monitoring

Basic Description
photo of sleepy driver

NHTSA [1] estimates that there are about 1,000 fatalities and 83,000 crashes that are related to driver fatigue each year in the U.S. Reasons for driver fatigue include lengthy driving distances, lack of sleep, and body clock disturbances.

There are many systems available or under development to monitor the alertness of the driver. These systems monitor the position, general behavior or driving performance of the driver and signal a warning and/or take partial control of automotive systems when a lack of attentiveness is detected. In some cars that already employ lane departure warning systems, data from that system is factored into the driver alertness algorithm.

Some Driver Alertness Monitoring systems detect eye movement and the blinking rate of the driver, while other systems monitor head movements (e.g. nods and tilt). Some systems under development include algorithms to track the driver’s facial expressions. These driver alertness systems typically use non-intrusive infrared cameras mounted in front of the driver. Some systems, like Mercedes-Benz Attention Assist, monitor driver input to the steering wheel along with other driver action such as use of turn indicators and application of pedals.

Example of a Driver Alertness Monitoring Algorithm

Driver Alertness Monitoring Algorithm

Camera, steering angle sensor, pedal position sensor, vehicle speed sensor
Display (usually in dashboard or instrument panel), speaker (audible warning) or in some cases lights, seat belt tensioner, steering wheel vibrator, seat vibrator, hot air blower
Data Communications
Typically Control Area Network (CAN)
BMW, Bosch, DADS, Denso, Exeros, LumeWay, Mercedes-Benz, Seeing Machines, Smart Eye, SMI, Tobii, Volkswagen, Volvo
For More Information
[1] NHTSA Research on Drowsy Driving, NHTSA website.
[2] Volvo - Driver Alert Control, YouTube, May 14, 2010.
[3] Trying to Nudge Drowsy Drivers, Randall Stross, NY Times, Jan. 21, 2012.
[4] Driver Alert System, YouTube, Apr. 13, 2012.
[5] Vibrating Steering Wheel Guides Drivers While Keeping Their Eyes on the Road, Carnegie Mellon News , Apr. 24, 2012.
[6] Driver Alertness Monitoring Using Fusion of Facial Features and Bio-Signals, IEEE Sensors Journal, July, 2012.
[7] Denso's Driver Status Monitor, YouTube, Jan. 28, 2013.
[8] Falling Asleep While Driving? New Brain Tech May Alert You, Huffington Post, July 12, 2013.
[9] Car Safety Features - ANCAP Lists Driver Awareness Systems in Top 5, Andatech Blog, July 2013.
[10] Driver Fatigue Detection Arrives to Safeguard Europe's Coach Passengers,, Dec. 10, 2013.