How cameras can monitor driver distraction and the road ahead
Driver distraction is something that worries most people these days. If you drive long distances, particularly in heavy traffic, it’s hard to stay focused on the road the whole time. Most of the solutions that car makers are developing focus on using cameras to scan the road ahead in case you miss something. Visteon Electronics is taking the idea a little further.
The company is working on ways to use cameras to monitor not just the road, but also the driver. By watching what’s going on inside and outside the car, there are more opportunities to help minimize driver distraction, Visteon figures.
The idea is to improve the overall driving experience, not just to spot hazards and issue warnings. If the car can see that the driver is looking for the air-conditioning switch, for example, it can make the button easier to locate. The driver finds it easier and his eyes return to the road quicker. And if it’s clear that while hunting for the switch, the driver missed an important road sign, the car then knows to alert him.
Anthony Ciatti, electronics innovator at Visteon said: “Backup cameras, forward-view cameras for radar-based features, eye-tracking cameras for drowsy-driver applications – the list of cameras making their way into vehicles is expanding. Along with these cameras, we can integrate many other applications to take advantage of this new hardware.”
“With more cameras coming into the vehicle in the near future, why not dual purpose the driver-facing camera so it also captures facial recognition? And why not also track the driver’s facial features? What can we do with this information? How can we make the driver’s tasks easier?”Anthony Ciatti, electronics innovator at Visteon
Visteon’s concept employs three cameras aimed at different points around the vehicle. The first is the driver camera, situated near the instrument cluster and pointed at the driver’s face. The second is the external camera, which would be located in the front of the car, pointing toward the road. The third camera would also be pointed toward the driver, but focusing on their right hand to track gestures – although it could be used for other tasks as well.
“Having these cameras work together was our primary goal,” said Ciatti. “With more cameras coming into the vehicle in the near future, why not dual purpose the driver-facing camera so it also captures facial recognition? And why not also track the driver’s facial features? What can we do with this information? How can we make the driver’s tasks easier?”
It’s an interesting idea. The driver camera will also recognize the person entering the car, allowing the system to load their settings: things like seat position, favourite radio station, favourite destinations. And if the car were stolen, the same camera could beam a picture of the thief to the owner or police.