Europe News: Saab tests new Driver Attention Warning System

Europe News:  Saab tests new Driver Attention Warning System

Saab’s Driver Attention Warning System is a development project designed to counter two of the most common causes of road accidents: driver drowsiness and inattention at the wheel.

It alerts the driver by using a combination of text and voice messages, or vibrations in the seat cushion, as soon as the risk of drowsiness or inattention is detected.

Research has shown that not only are 20% of accidents cause by sleeplessness, but death tolls from sleep-related incidents are three times higher than other accidents, presumably because the drivers do not swerve or apply their brakes.

Unlike other similar systems, SAAB’s Driver Attention Warning System is designed to detect the onset of drowsiness or inattention, rather than the immediate consequences.

Rather than relying on measuring an erratic change in the steered direction of the vehicle, the system uses two miniature infra-red cameras, one installed at the base of the driver’s A-pillar and the other in the centre of the main fascia, which are focused on the driver’s eyes. The image from the cameras is analysed by software that deploys a series of alerts when the pattern of eye-lid movement indicates the onset of drowsiness, or when the driver is not looking at the road ahead.

The system measures the driver’s rate of eye blinking, and a series of three increasingly urgent warnings is triggered if the cameras detect a pattern of long duration eye-lid closures.

The cameras also monitor the driver’s eyeball and head movement, and an alert is triggered if the driver's gaze moves away from what is defined as the 'primary attention zone' for more than two seconds.

The Saab 9-3 SportWagon development car will now participate in an eight-month field trial program supervised by the Road & Transport Research Institute in Sweden. The car is fitted with a wireless GPRS 3G modem that will download data every minute to a web server at Linköping University, where the performance of the system will be analysed.

The trial is part of a development and validation process that could see the system becoming available in future Saab cars.

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