Although it’s going to be several years at least before autonomous cars become mainstream, car makers like Volkswagen and Toyota are already beginning to test technology that will be able to sense when you’re too distracted to drive a vehicle. Manufacturers like General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen are looking at systems that would trigger alarms that the driver is too distracted or tired to be behind the wheel of a car. These systems could even launch as early as 2017.
The technology uses software and cameras to track a driver’s head movement and gaze and this will be available in two vehicles for sale next year. The system would then alert the driver with a seatbelt vibration and a noise if it detects that he or she has shifted their focus from the road for too long or if their eyelids seem tired enough to indicate sudden sleep.
Another firm is also looking at similar technology with automakers and this could help to address the rising instances of distracted driving across the country. In 2014 alone, 431, 000 individuals were injured in car crashes associated with distracted drivers and a further 3,179 individuals were killed. Despite the fact that texting and driving and other forms of distraction are typically illegal or at least strongly discouraged in many states, individuals still admit to engaging in these behaviors.
Media attention would suggest that these “self-driving cars will lead to less accidents. We are not that optimistic. Google has been celebrating many different achievements with their autonomous vehicles. Three out of four Americans still aren’t quite ready for driverless cars. After a self-driving car had at least some responsibility for an accident involving a bus in California, it’s not expected that the numbers of Americans who support self-driving cars will increase.
A survey released by AAA indicated that within the group of people who did not support autonomous vehicles 84% felt that their own driving skills were better than what the technology offered. This could be seen as a possible setback because the developer Google has pushed for widespread adoption and use of these vehicles that don’t require traditional controls like brakes or steering wheels.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, however, has been hesitant about full approval for this, asking that Google reconsider their current approach to self-driving cars. The results released from the survey may indicate that more research and information is needed before Americans are willing to stand behind cars with their own driving capability.
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