A new generation of cars keeps an eye on you… to make sure you keep an eye on the road.
A tiny camera on the dashboard monitors every blink of the driver’s eyes to make sure they’re not drowsy or distracted.
It tracks the exact position and tilt of their face, the direction of gaze, eyelid activity, the rate and duration of every blink, how dilated their pupils are, how open their eyes are, whether their mouth is open, and more.
Using AI and computer vision, it is constantly watching out for signs of cell phone usage, seatbelt-wearing and smoking, and checking that the driver is actually focused on the road. If they’re not, it calls them out on it.
This is not the future. A driver monitoring system (DMS), developed by Cipia, an Israeli startup that holds over 70 patents in computer vision AI, has been built into cars that are on the road today.
Three manufacturers have already incorporated its Driver Sense technology into cars that are currently in production and two more have signed up. That brings to 25 the number of different car models using the system.
There are other companies that have developed driver monitoring systems, including Smart Eye and Seeing Machines.
But Cipia says that what sets it apart is that it requires relatively low processing power and camera specification, so manufacturers and fleets have to pay less overall. The lower price means its software can go into more vehicles.
Over a million people die every year due to distracted driving, says Krzypow. DMS has more than halved the number of accidents in some fleets. “Its contribution is very noticeable,” he says.
Drivers engage in at least one potentially distracted driving behavior n over 98 per cent of all journeys. And according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80 per cent of car accidents and 65 per cent of near-collisions involve some form of driver distraction, typically occurring within three seconds before the crash.
In April 2021, The Stay Aware For Everyone (SAFE) Act of 2021 was introduced by the US Senate, requiring US regulators to mandate the installation of DMS to ensure motorists are engaged while using semi-autonomous driving systems. If the legislation is passed, every new car would need to adopt some version of the technology by 2027.
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