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Drowsy Driver Detection

Fatigue caused 18% of fatalities on NSW roads in 2013, but researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney say they are close to producing a drowsiness-detecting system that applies complex mathematical algorithms to data derived from several on-body and in-vehicle devices.

“With our hybrid system, we are hoping for accurate driver fatigue predictions of 90% or more, which would be really ideal without alerting the driver falsely,” A/Prof Sara Lal says. “Our system will also focus on their physiological signs, using devices such as a wristband that can monitor cardiac action, video cameras and seat and steering wheel sensors.”

Many devices under development or already available concentrate on how the car is behaving, such as veering about or decelerating, and the driver’s physical signs, such as closing of the eyes or nodding the head, rather than more direct and predictable indicators such as muscle activity and heart rate. “We want to alert drivers about fatigue before it happens. If you’re nodding off, it’s already too late,” Lal says.

Lal hopes that the devices will become compulsory in all vehicles and not an optional extra.