Backseat drivers are known for offering unwanted advice, but let's face it: sometimes the driver really needs it.
Soon, drivers might be able to enlist the help of a high-tech backseat driver that can offer warnings anytime they hit the road. A new type of technology called Brain4Cars would help drivers predict errors and alert them – in the form of a light, sound or a vibration - seconds before mistakes occur.
Hey Dude, Where's My Driverless Car?
Researchers at Cornell and Stanford universities are steering this new technology to help improve driver safety. The system uses cameras inside the car to monitor the driver, coupled with data from sensors outside the car, to predict whether someone is about to make a wrong turn or a dangerous decision.
Face-detection and tracking software is used to identify certain head movements and gestures associated with lane changes and turns. Furthermore, the technology could potentially take over braking and steering if it anticipates a crash will occur.
The system could also enlist GPS data to warn a driver if he's about to make, say, an illegal turn on a one-way street.
"There are many systems now that monitor what's going on outside the car," Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science at Cornell, told Phys.org. "Internal monitoring of the driver will be the next leap forward."
The Borrow-At-Will, Park-Anywhere Smart Car
While developing the system, researchers recorded video of 10 people driving 1,180 miles on the freeway and on urban roads over a period of two months. Saxena explained the system accurately predicted the driver's actions 77.4 percent of the time and anticipated their intentions an average of 3.53 seconds in advance – which is perhaps enough to prevent an accident and save lives.
The research team says the prototype system is in the "first steps" and that further advancements must be made before the technology is production-ready, possibly including infrared cameras for clearer night vision and 3D cameras for better accuracy.