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THE VIEW Connected Vehicles Richard Bishop


Are we in need of a system that monitors our driver-monitoring system?


richard.bishop@mindspring.com; www.auvsi.org; www.vehicleautomation.org Follow Richard at #ThinkingCarsH3B


A


utomated driving continues to bubble along in the media. Some journalists are particularly


enjoying the long-term speculation of how, for instance, the steel industry will be bereſt due to the loss in sales as carmakers reduce body strength in a crash-less world. Um, well, eventually I suppose. Looking this far out is intriguing


but not terribly productive. In the near-term, there are questions about how automation can be offered in incremental stages, possibly running into conflict with human capabilities in shared control. When the car is cruising down the freeway, staying in the lane on its own, adjusting to traffic ahead, what are you, the driver, supposed to do? Some say your job is to “monitor” the system and be ready to take over control instantly if something unusual happens. Others say the vehicle system must be smart enough to handle virtually any event at least for a few seconds to give the driver – who hopefully has not dozed off – time to re-orient to the situation. Te scientific questions on this


topic abound and human factors investigations are underway. But looking at this from the perspective of product development within a car company, driver monitoring raises interesting questions in regard to personal responsibility. Instead of installing complex and expensive driver monitoring equipment, a carmaker could clearly define driver responsibilities in the owner’s manual plus require the driver to press an “I accept” button on the vehicle screen to acknowledge a message reinforcing


72 Richard Bishop is principal of Bishop Consulting and Associate Editor of Thinking Highways North America


their responsibility (this was done when integrated navigation systems were first introduced). It is then leſt up to the driver to fulfill their responsibility.


LEVELS OF AUTOMATION Shocking? Naïve? Well, it is actually current practice. Today’s drivers control the speed of their vehicle, whether they choose a safe speed or not. Should a vehicle system monitor the driver’s chosen speed, determine if it is inappropriate for conditions, and potentially intervene to slow the vehicle? If the car were a brand new invention, it probably would be seen as so dangerous it would never come to market – but if it did, arguments could be made to at least make sure unsafe speeds were never possible. Putting top-down safety engineering aside, the driving regime has simply not evolved in this way. Te choice of speed is leſt to the driver, even if this endangers other road users. Te only countermeasures come from law enforcement. Terefore, in bringing an automated


vehicle to market, should the carmaker install driver-monitoring equipment to “baby-sit” in the event a driver chooses not to properly pay attention? It would certainly be prudent at a societal level so that this irresponsible driver doesn’t create havoc in the traffic stream. Manufacturers may want to protect themselves in potential lawsuits by gathering data to determine if the driver is using the system correctly. From baby-sitter to watchdog! Where is the car customer who is going to like that idea? Tere is another possibility. An


Emergency Stop Assistant prototyped by thinkinghighways.com


❝ In bringing an


automated vehicle to market, should the carmaker install driver- monitoring equipment to “baby-sit” the driver in the event that they choose not to properly pay attention?





BMW provides full vehicle control in the event a driver is incapacitated, bringing the car safely to the roadside, activating flashers and calling for medical assistance. Clearly, the same technology could be employed as a backstop for the healthy driver who tunes out for whatever reason. Regulators might even require this as a way to protect other road users from irresponsible automated car users. But it only works if the vehicle system has enough situational awareness to safely manoeuvre through traffic and find the roadside. Te overall calculus for product


introduction is vastly more involved than this simplistic scenario. Final product decisions will incorporate a wide range of other considerations. In fact, forms of driver monitoring have been on the market for several years. Driver fatigue systems monitor driver activity by noting lane keeping stability, pedal application, steering inputs, manipulation of other controls, and direct driver monitoring. For example, a driver-monitoring system on Lexus models uses a camera to track the movement of the driver’s head as an indicator of the level of attention towards the road. Ford is taking further steps, experimenting with infrared sensors to detect changes in temperature in the driver’s face plus sensors embedded in the seat belt to assess breathing rate – biometric markers that can indicate fatigue or illness. Using sensors to detect and make


sense of human activity is a very daunting task and will never be perfect. Yet, leaving proper monitoring up to the driver defeats the aim of taking the human out of the crash equation. It will be interesting to see how carmakers and regulators traverse this challenging territory.


Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World


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