Volvo and VTT develop new method for monitoring driver status

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The method is based on an assessment of the driver's eye direction and behaviour.

The method protects the driver from distractions, such as warnings about windscreen washer fluid levels, when traffic conditions require the driver to be particularly alert and focused. The project also included testing a solution where a mobile phone functions as an integrated part of the vehicle interface.

In the past, new technology solutions were integrated into vehicles together with a flood of information without truly considering the driver's ability to digest the information. In the method developed in the European Adaptive Integrated Driver-vehicle InterfacE (AIDE) project, co-ordinated by Volvo, the message intended for the driver can be connected to the HMI equipment, which includes haptic communication channels integrating sound, graphics and touch.

Adaptive means using sound warnings when the driver is too busy to pay attention to visual warnings, or delaying non-priority messages until the driver has time to absorb the information, e.g. delaying unimportant messages until the driver leaves urban traffic and reaches the motorway.

VTT's primary project task was to develop a driver monitoring solution by using machine vision technology. A new classification method suited to driver monitoring was created, which can not only determine the level of attention a driver is paying to the environment, but also understands the traffic situation.

The driver status assessment module, co-developed by VTT and Volvo, monitors the driver's eye direction and driving behaviour based on lane drifting.

The project also involved demonstrating a solution where a mobile phone functions as a part of the vehicle's user interface and follows the on-board computer behaviour. During the project, VTT built the program library required for integrating the on-board computer to the mobile phone. The library is used to set the appropriate mobile phone operation mode based on the driver status and traffic situation delivered by the vehicle.

The first wave of driver, vehicle and traffic assessment solutions reached the market in 2008. More advanced versions are to be expected over the coming decade, especially for heavy-duty vehicles and those in higher-price brackets.

The €12.5 million project was carried out between January 2004 and April 2008. The project participants included thirty car manufacturers, subcontractors and researchers from various parts of Europe with Volvo, Seat and Motorola as VTT's principal partners.


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