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Volvo's Driver Sensor Technologies Detect Tiredness

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On: Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 9:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

Volvo's Driver Sensor Technologies Detect Tiredness

No other manufacturer seems to be researching new technologies and publicizing their efforts quite like Volvo. Over the past few months alone, the automaker has detailed its car delivery system and energy-storing body panels. It has also done a lot of work with sensor systems that automote driving and parking. This time, it's turning its sensors inside out, using driver-monitoring technology to increase safety and awareness.

Until external vehicle sensor systems take over completely for drivers, roadways will continue to be dominated by fallible humans. Volvo believes that, in addition to external sensors that aid in things like lane maintenance and following distance, internal sensors can also help make roads safer and less susceptible to human error.

Volvo is testing a dashboard-mounted sensor that monitors thedirection the driver is looking, how open his or her eyes are, and his or her head position and angle. The sensor uses infrared light, undetectable by the human eye, and not a distraction in and of itself.

Using these parameters, the system detects an inattentive, tired or sleeping driver and intervenes, taking action to wake the driver. The driver attentiveness sensor can also work with other automated technologies—including Volvo's Lane Keeping Aid, Collision warning with full auto brake, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist—to take over certain driving functions when it's clear the driver is not at full attention.

"Since the car is able to detect if a driver is not paying attention, safety systems can be adapted more effectively. For example, the car's support systems can be activated later on if the driver is focused, and earlier if the driver’s attention is directed elsewhere," Per Landfors, engineer at Volvo Cars and project leader for driver support functions, explains.

Volvo also believes the technology could be expanded for other uses, including driver recognition, adjusting settings to the specific driver as soon as the sensor "reads" the face.

Volvo has equipped the sensor system to test cars and is performing further research with the help of Chalmers University of Technology.


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