Volvo will equip its upcoming all-electric EX90 with a newly introduced driver understanding system, aimed at minimizing crashes.
If a car can understand when the driver is in a state that isn’t optimal for driving, it can act to help avoid accidents, the company said, explaining how this real-time interior sensing system is guided.
The system will be a standard feature in EX90, which will be revealed on 9 November 2022.
“Our research shows that by simply observing where the driver is looking and how often and for how long their eyes are closed, we can tell a lot about the state of the driver,” said Emma Tivesten, Senior Technical Expert, Volvo Cars Safety Centre.
“By basing its calculations on our research findings, the sensing system allows our cars to identify whether the driver’s ability is impaired, perhaps due to drowsiness, distraction or other causes of inattention, and to offer extra assistance in a way that best suits the situation,” she added.
Elaborating on it further, the company said the system observes the driver’s eye-gaze patterns by using its two cameras to pick up early signals that indicate that the driver is not at their best. By measuring how much of the time the driver looks at the road ahead, allowing for natural variations, it understands when the driver’s eyes, and perhaps therefore their mind, are focused somewhere other than on driving.
The car’s capacitive steering wheel also plays a role. It senses if the driver lets go of the wheel, thus monitoring the stability of their steering input.
By using this technology, the car can take appropriate action. This can be a simple warning signal that grows in volume with the severity of the situation. If the driver doesn’t respond, the car can even safely stop by the side of the road, sending a warning to other road users with its hazard lights.
“We’ve made great progress on exterior sensing in the past decades,” said Thomas Broberg, Acting Head of Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “Interior sensing is one of the next safety frontiers for us. We will continue to learn, develop, and deploy new features step by step to help improve safety as our knowledge increases and matures.”