If you’ve been paying attention to the media lately, then you know autonomous vehicles are the future of driving. These new cars will be able to pick you up and take you wherever you need to go without the need of a driver. Experts even claim that autonomous vehicles will be safer and eliminate road hazards like distracted driving. However, the autonomous driving future is still a ways off, are there technological solution that could help drivers fight distraction today?
Are Smart Cars Capable of Stopping Distracted Driving?
Tesla faced a mountain of pressure from government officials when one of its cars crashed into an 18-wheeler, killing its driver while operating in semi-autonomous mode. This led to the company employing its vast technical know-how to make sure drivers continued to pay attention to the road when autopilot was activated. But what if that technology were deployed in all cars, regardless of whether they were in semi-autonomous mode or not?
That’s a question Fakhri Karray of the University of Waterloo’s Center for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence is trying to find out. Using software and Microsoft Kinect digital cameras, Karray and his team of engineers are developing a system that cars can use to tell if drivers are distracted or not.
The system uses the cameras to watch the driver’s entire body, and uses an algorithm to determine if that driver is distracted or not. Automakers like Cadillac are also developing such systems, but they focus on just the head or eyes. The system at Waterloo observes the entire body. These researchers are also using neural networks instead of pattern recognition to develop a system that makes fewer mistakes when trying to figure out when someone is driving distracted.
How Long Before This Technology Is Available?
According to Karray, if left up to automakers, it could take years before we see systems like this developed for consumer vehicles. However, he believes he could get a system like this running in just a year, which could allow the third-party market to make options available much sooner than automakers can provide.
Regardless, we will still have to exercise self-control and care when out driving. There is all manner of distractions for drivers on modern roads—from cellphones to infotainment systems. It is the responsibility of the driver to keep their focus on the road while behind the wheel.
Public safety officials are launching safety campaigns all over the country to help remind drivers of this responsibility. And personal injury attorneys like the Bay Area lawyers at Mary Alexander & Associates can do their part by helping the victims of distracted driving seek justice against negligent drivers. Contact experienced legal help if you have a legal concern about your motor vehicle accident.