‘Micro-sleep’, distraction, a seat-belt left undone — many things that happen inside a vehicle can have far-reaching consequences.
To avert critical driving situations (and possibly accidents), it is planned that cars will in the future use their sensors not simply to monitor the road but also the driver and other passengers.
For this purpose, Bosch has developed a new ‘interior monitoring system’ featuring cameras and artificial intelligence (AI).
Harald Kroeger, a member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management, said: “If the car knows what its driver and occupants are doing, driving will become safer.”
The Bosch system may go into production in 2022, when the EU makes safety technology (warning drivers of drowsiness and distraction, for example) a standard feature in new vehicles.
The EU Commission expects that the new safety requirements for vehicles will save more than 25,000 lives by 2038 and help to prevent at least 140,000 severe injuries.
By keeping an eye on what is happening inside the car, it is hoped that a fundamental problem of self-driving cars will be solved.
If responsibility for driving is to be transferred to the driver again after an automated drive on the freeway, the car needs to be sure that the driver is not sleeping, reading the newspaper or writing e-mails on a smartphone.
“At 50kph, a vehicle will cover 42m completely unsupervised if the driver dozes off or looks at their smartphone for just three seconds.
International studies state that nearly one in 10 accidents are caused by distraction or drowsiness, prompting Bosch to develop an interior monitoring system that detects and alerts to this danger and provides driving assistance.”
A camera integrated in the steering wheel detects when drivers’ eyelids are getting heavy, when they are distracted, and when they turn their head towards their passenger or the rear seats.
“Thanks to AI, the system draws the right conclusions from this information: it warns inattentive drivers, recommends a break if they are getting tired, or even reduces the speed of the vehicle — depending on the car maker’s wishes, and also on legal requirements.”
The new Bosch (www.bosch.com
) system keeps its eye not only on the driver, but also on all the other passengers, whether next to or behind the driver.
For this purpose, a camera mounted near the rear-view mirror monitors the entire passenger compartment.
It notices a number of situations, such as whether children on the rear seats have unfastened their seat belts, and warns the driver.
It also warns if someone sitting in the back is leaning too far forward, at an angle, or with their feet up on the seat next to them, as the airbags and belt tensioner would not be able to protect them properly in an accident.