Driver Monitoring System 102

Date: October 23, 2020

Author: Anchal Pandey

Considering the increasing number of cars on the road, the growing demand for ADAS (Advanced driver-assistance systems) might come as no surprise!

Most of the passengers meet with accidents due to distraction from driving, especially at night. Many automakers are offering driver monitoring system that monitors the driver irrespective of the lighting conditions to reduce such incidents. But how does this solution work?

Let’s learn more about this potential life saver system.

What constitutes a Driver Monitoring Solution?Most DMS use RGB or Infrared sensors. The solution has a charged couple device camera with Infrared LED detectors placed on the steering column or rear-view mirror which tracks the eye gaze and head movement of the driver along with other parameters.

Driver Drowsiness

Fig. Drowsy driving

When the system sees that the driver is not paying attention to the road, or is feeling drowsy, then it sends audio and visual alerts.  

It helps in warning the driver before the collision happens, instead of reporting the incident afterward. It can also aid in improving driving, especially for new drivers who are more likely to be involved in collisions. The DMS can reduce operational and insurance costs, achieve safety metrics, and as a result, save lives!

Does it work with sunglasses?

The Infrared light passes through almost all of the sunglasses, including the polarized ones. To the image sensor, the lenses seem transparent so the eyes can be tracked as normal. 

Also, computer vision and AI algorithm are trained to detect drowsiness and distraction even when the driver is wearing sunglasses or masks.

Can it defend a spoofing face attack?

One of the myths that roams around social media is that driver monitoring system can be easily fooled by spoofing, i.e., placing a photograph in front of the camera sensor. 

In reality, driver monitoring solution can easily detect a still image since eye gaze, head and neck movement doesn’t happen in this case. So, spoofing can be easily detected. 

If a spoofing attack is tried via video clips, then that won’t work too. The reflection of infrared light from a human eye is different from the reflection of light from the video played on the electronic device. 

DMS: The privacy invader?

DMS does not record the driver at all times except during a distraction and drowsiness incident. In such events the system alerts the driver and records the footage on cloud for future reference. 

Fig 2 Driver Monitoring System

Therefore, the driver should know that the camera installed in their vehicles will not invade their privacy. Also, lawmakers are finding ways in which road safety and privacy can go hand in hand. 

In Europe, the mandate for the adoption of DMS stipulates that only closed-loop systems can be installed. They must perform the video analysis and processing inside the vehicle. 

As per the regulation (EU) 2019/2144 of the European Parliament and the Council on type-approval requirements for motor vehicles states:

“Any such safety system should function without use of any kind of biometric information of drivers or passengers, including facial recognition.”

Also, the USA SAFE Act says that

“The rule issued under paragraph (1) shall incorporate appropriate privacy and data security safeguards, as determined by the Secretary of Transportation”

Some drivers might find the solution nagging too! This can be easily avoided by focusing more on the road and avoiding any kind of distraction during the journey. After all, safety should be their top priority!

What are the key considerations during the development and incorporation of DMS into the vehicles?

Usually, designing a system for a controlled environment is somewhat easy. The light source is calibrated for optimum image quality; there are no limits to power consumption or thermal dissipation.  

You might think that the vehicle’s interior is a controlled environment, and it’s the only area to consider, but that’s not the case. The following points have to be kept in mind before developing a Driver monitoring system.

Accuracy takes the first place. Driver monitoring solution should measure what it is intended to measure and keep false positives/negatives to a minimum.

The hardware and software should require the least maintenance. If the system is inconsistent or requires regular calibration, the driver may be less likely to trust and use the system. 

An ideal DMS will work on any internal conditions such as temperature, ambient lighting, high noise, and external conditions such as time of day, bad weather, varying highway geometry, etc.

The system should also adapt to various physical characteristics design including demographic features, physical features, and visual needs (eyeglasses or contact lenses). The calibration should be simple and quick to implement. 

It should have the ability to gather data continuously in real-time to serve its intended purpose. Noticeable delays in issuing warnings can reduce the intended protection afforded by the system. 

Also, the OEMs try to change the vehicle’s design to introduce new concepts and enhance the driver’s comfort. Hence, it’s a challenge to create a product that can adapt to these changes.

As a result, the driver monitoring system must be designed to provide good quality images, even in low light conditions. 

The camera position should have the ease of installing at various positions such as the A-pillar, rear-view mirror, or steering column depending on the need. The product can be either a stand-alone design or can be integrated with other systems.

Most importantly, the Driver monitoring solution must be ASIL certified since the solution is linked to safety-critical ADAS and autonomous driving functions.

Why Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) rating?

One of the most essential features of a DMS is driver gaze and eye-tracking. The image sensors used in DMS are expected to have a set of features required to achieve ASIL- B certification. 

The first question that comes to mind is, why do we need an ASIL certification in the first place? What ASIL rating is required to meet the current and future needs? 

It’s simple. The higher the ASIL certification, the better.  

Since image sensors or sensors, in general, have a long-life cycle in the automotive industry, it’s better to stay ahead in the market trend. In applications that have more crucial functions related to safety, higher ASIL certification is preferred.

Moreover, since development, verification, and maintenance result in high costs, a higher safety rating increases the ROI (return on investment) while incurring no area or margin penalties.

Ideally, ASIL B, C is the ideal rating for driver monitoring system since it is used as a safety feature. During an accident or critical failure, the DMS is expected to be functional to alert the driver.

To have such a rating, the sensors should ensure that the image is free of noise, mirror, pixel defects, row or column defects.  The system must include safeguards to make sure that the algorithm can trust the image. 

What is the future of DMS?

The developed countries have a greater number of premium and luxury cars as compared to the developing ones. Due to this, they have a large market for driver monitoring solution. However, with the rising demand for luxury cars in developing countries, things are changing now.

India has joined the league of other regulatory bodies. Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment program employs a star system to rate vehicle safety. 

Various countries have NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) to evaluate new automobile designs for performance under various safety threats. These NCAPs are recommending driver monitoring solution and offering growth opportunities for the product. 

 Euro NCAP has already given a deadline to include a child presence detection system in the vehicles. It will start awarding ratings for this feature by 2022. The US is also taking a step towards road safety

Recently, NTSB has asked NHTSA to work with SAE international for developing a certain performance standard for the driver monitoring systems that minimizes driver disengagement and accounts for misuse of automation. 

NTSB has further stated that any car installed with a level 2 driver assist should be fitted with a proper driver monitoring solution where the camera executes gaze-tracking. It will help in making sure that the driver’s eyes are on the road.

In a nutshell, the DMS market is currently dominated by Europe and followed by North America, but soon there will be a rising demand in the rest of the continents, and solutions with higher ratings will lead the market in the future. Hence, there is no doubt that soon DMS will be a standard feature in all cars. If you are interested in knowing more about such a system, please connect with us at or visit us here.

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Camera & IoT

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