Driver Monitoring Solution (DMS) - Combating Distracted Driving Until We Reach Full Autonomy

Date: March 4, 2019

Author: Akshay Srinivasa

Distracted driving is the reason for nearly 25% of fatalities in road accidents. Because of this, more than 47 states in the USA have banned texting while driving.

1.25 million people are killed worldwide in road accidents (WHO)

95% of road accidents are caused by human error

40% of trucking-related accidents are caused by operator/driver fatigue (NHTSA)

30% of total car drive time is spent on distracting activities while driving (European RSO)

Now let us look at certain causes for distracted driving: Visual distraction, Manual tasks, and Cognitive tasks. The major reason for all these inattentions is that drivers believe that they can manage multiple tasks while driving. To overcome all these problems and make the road safer for all drivers, regulatory bodies as well as OEMs are introducing new norms and products. Driver monitoring can broadly be classified into active and passive driver monitoring-

Driver Monitoring

Passive Driver Monitoring

Passive driver monitoring includes front facing camera-based lane departure warning and capacitive touch-based input data from steering and braking that are analysed to infer distraction or alertness of driver.

Active Driver Monitoring

Using a camera-based system that identifies the driver’s face, actively measures various facial feature like the head pose, eyelid tracking, and other features can infer distraction.

Driver monitoring solution is one such active monitoring system which uses camera and various CNN based tracking features of facial landmarks to predicts the state of the driver.

Advantages of using Camera-based driver monitoring system

  • To overcome false alarms from other systems
  • To understand driver attentiveness in SAE Autonomy level 2-4
  • To monitor driver wellness and state in Level5

This system can sometimes be retrofitted to old cars. For new cars, it can come as standard equipment. Now let us understand some of the features of said DMS: -

  • Detecting sleep deprivation - Prolonged driving or mundane highway driving causes drivers to nod off while driving. To identify this, driver’s head nod and yawns are detected using CNN models, which are trained with help of a wide user database.
  • Distraction alert - Any distraction that is outside or inside (like using a cell phone or adjusting an infotainment system) causes the driver to move their concentration from the road to these distractions. To identify this behaviour, looking away or gaze is monitored.
  • Sleep deprivation prediction- Identifying sleepiness is quite a simpler task than predicting it. The CNN model is the next step to identify any lack of attention, this is predicted by monitoring facial features for Blink (Slow blink) and yawn count.
  • Other activities identification and classification - With occupants in the vehicle, the driver is bound to interact with them this features monitors the same. Actions like texting, laughing, talking, drinking and eating are identified.

Application of Driver Monitoring Solutions-

Diver monitoring solutions help the user in safer journey, it has various application across domains that involve human and vehicle interaction. Some of them are listed below,

  • For insurance providers
  • For taxi aggregators
  • Fleet management companies
  • Car rental providers

Reduced Insurance Premium with Driver Monitoring Solution

Insurance is a large part of the vehicle maintenance that a user incurs annually. However, if a user is provided a subsidised payment option for using a technology that benefits them with added safety, users will surely be drawn to that insurance provider. For the insurance provider, it gives the benefit of enhancing the experience of insurance while lowering the number of claims.

Driver Monitoring Solution for Taxi Aggregators

Taxi aggregators have both drivers as well as passengers using their platform, most of the time the drivers are overworked resulting in unsafe condition for passengers who rely on these taxi aggregators for their daily commute

Driver Monitoring Solution for Better Fleet Management

Fleet management organizations generally face a lot of difficulties when it comes to driver & vehicle safety. This has a direct impact on their profitability because it increases liability and in-turn insurance premiums that must be paid to keep the vehicles running. With Driver Monitoring Solution, drivers can easily be monitored. Distracted and erratic driving can be combated. DMS can as also be used as a dash cam, which records any wrongdoing by the fleet driver as well as other vehicles on the road that may lead to accidents. This helps in curbing traffic violations.

Driver Monitoring Solution for Car Rental Providers

Car rentals have a broad customer base. This puts forth the challenge of varied driving styles and habits. From a customer perspective, it is always better to have lower cost for rent and insurance for the rental. An ideal solution for car rentals to address this and attract new customers (by providing lower costs compared to competition) is to use driver monitoring solution (with the user’s consent), which monitors the users driving style and calculates the cost accurately, resulting in a win-win situation for the user and car rental provider.

Conclusion

OEM’s and car manufacturers are aiming for full autonomy in the near future. Acceptance by consumers is still a long way away for fully autonomous cars, and until then, vehicles are being equipped with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) DMS is a part of ADAS, which will make the transition smoother as well as assist drivers in combating distraction while driving.

Further reading

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