Interior camera uses AI to detect driver distraction and fatigue

Interior camera uses AI to detect driver distraction and fatigue

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The system is scheduled to go into series production in 2022. Then the safety technology, which warns the driver in the event of fatigue or distraction, for example, is to become the standard in new vehicles in the European Union. The EU Commission expects that its new vehicle safety requirements will save more than 25,000 lives by 2038 and prevent at least 140,000 serious injuries.

Looking inside a vehicle should also solve a fundamental problem of self-driving cars in the future. For example, if the system is to return the responsibility for driving to the driver after a long journey in automatic mode, it must be ensured that the driver neither sleeps nor reads the newspaper or e-mails on the smartphone.

That’s why Bosch is developing an interior monitoring system that recognizes the hazard of distracted or tired drivers and can both warn and support them. A camera built into the steering wheel detects when the driver shows signs of fatigue, when he is distracted, or when he turns his gaze toward the side or toward the rear seats. The AI algorithm evaluates the driver’s head posture, viewing direction and movements and draws the right conclusions. It warns the driver in case of carelessness, recommends breaks when he gets tired, or even reduces the speed of the vehicle – depending on the wishes of the vehicle manufacturer or legal requirements.

The developers used sophisticated image processing algorithms and machine learning to teach the system to understand what people are doing in the driver’s seat. Take fatigue, for example: the system is trained by taking pictures of real driving situations and learns how tired the driver really is by means of camera shots with eye opening and eyelash frequency. It can therefore provide customized warnings in any situation or support the driver with the help of driver assistance systems.

Warning systems that sound the alarm in the event of distraction and fatigue will become so important in the future that the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) will include them in its timetable for the Euro-NCAP evaluation scheme for vehicle safety until 2025. The information from the interior monitoring system is only evaluated by the software in the car, but is neither stored nor passed on to third parties, Bosch assures.

How important it is for the car to understand the driver becomes obvious when driving automatically according to SAE Levels 2 and 3. The car then drives on highways without the driver’s intervention, for example, but will also have to return the control to the driver – for example if it becomes unclear at a construction site or if it arrives at the desired exit. The camera makes sure that the driver does not fall asleep so that he can safely take over the wheel again at any time during the automated journey. If the driver keeps his eyes closed for an extended period of time, the system issues an acoustic warning. Based on the camera recordings, it also interprets what the driver is currently busy with and how ready he is to record. It can thus adapt the transfer of the driving task accordingly. According to Bosch engineers, driver observation is thus a prerequisite for safe automated driving.

Bosch’s vehicle interior monitoring system

The new Bosch system not only keeps an eye on the driver, but also on the front passenger and the passengers in the rear seat. For this purpose, a camera is installed above the rear-view mirror that overlooks the entire interior. It detects when children in the rear seat are carelessly loosening their seat belts and warns the driver. If a passenger sits too far forward in the rear seat, leaning too far or even diagonally and with his feet on the side seat, airbags and belt tensioners cannot provide optimum protection in the event of an accident. The information collected by the interior camera provides information about the seat posture and adjusts the airbags and belt pretensioners to provide the best possible protection. Thanks to the interior monitoring system, the airbag on the front passenger seat also does not activate when a baby seat is in place.

In addition to safety, the system also takes care of the comfort of the vehicle occupants. The interior camera recognises which person is seated in the driver’s seat and adjusts the rear-view mirror, seat position, steering wheel height and infotainment system settings to the person’s previously stored preferences. In addition, the camera enables car manufacturers’ developers to control the infotainment settings with gestures or eyes.

Related articles:

Bosch introduces AI-based camera for automated driving

Startup unveils L4 autonomous sensing solution

ON Semi demos integrated in-cabin monitoring system 

The brains behind automotive storage in the connected car


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