Thursday, March 23, 2017

Drowsiness Detectors to Prevent Accidents

As technology continues to serve a vital role in all areas of the modern world in as many ways as possible, it is no surprise that its being used and further developed to ensure the safety of vehicle operators by preventing accidents due to drivers somnolence. As the article states, “30% of fatal accidents on highways are due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel!” When faced with this very high number, it comes without saying that something needed to be done technologically to lower this number for the safety of all drivers.

I found it very interesting to see how advanced the device to monitor drivers drowsiness already is. Also, I was not aware that there are already devices that can detect a driver’s drowsiness, but they’re just not as accurate and advanced as they could be to make a noticeable difference. Not only can this new device detect the driver’s current level of drowsiness with better accuracy, but it can detect future drowsiness as well, making it even more successful in preventing accidents. Detecting current levels of drowsiness may be too late to prevent an accident, which is why its ability to see the future is revolutionary in comparison to original technology. I feel that this technology, developed for about ten years at the University of Li├Ęge (ULg) in Belgium will prove to be way more successful and effective than the current drowsiness detectors that monitor wheel movement and the crossing of lines in the road rather than the validated scientific “Drowsimetry” and “Drowsimeter” as named by Professor Jacques G. Verly of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at ULg. The current car monitors of drowsiness are certainly flawed and do not detect drowsy drivers with full accuracy. Rather than focusing on the vehicle to monitor drowsiness, the device created by ULg focuses scientifically on the operator of the vehicle. This technology is without a doubt unique and revolutionary, and because it is something that is necessary for our safety, it will continue to be worked on and advanced closer and closer to perfection.

I believe that this technology will turn out to be very successful as it becomes more widely used. Not only will it be used in cars, but nearly all other modes of transportation as well, which will make its impact much greater on land, water, and even in the air. Eventually, I could even see it becoming mandatory in all vehicles especially if it has significant effect on the high percent of fatal accident due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. This is why it was compared to the development and use of the seatbelt in the article. The seatbelt too was once a safety idea, and is now required by law for the safety of all drivers and passengers. In my opinion, this technology to detect drowsiness will eventually become the next seatbelt; so don’t be surprised if you see this camera on your car dashboard in years to come.

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Becca Ashworth said...

I found this post interesting because I was just speaking to a friend who is doing similar research at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The lab there is determining the impact that lack of sleep has on a person and more specifically, his/her driving abilities. They are beginning to realize that exhaustion can have as great of an impact as alcohol intoxication—a fact that certainly surprised me at first. This is significant particularly with long-haul truck drivers who are expected to work long hours and drive increasingly long distances. Drivers falling asleep at the wheel is tragic for families, and sets companies back ethically and financially. It is in the best interest of all parties involved to limit accidents and protect the safety of drivers.

One device that the lab at CU-Boulder is considering is the development of a smart watch that will inform drivers when they need to pull over to rest. This technology could be linked and reported to supervisors and an enforcement board to ensure safety guidelines are being properly followed. There can be intense pressure to deliver goods on time, as companies like Amazon and Walmart become more dependent on fast, inexpensive shipping. High pressure can lead to short-cuts and cause drivers to push themselves too far. I assume it will be important for an external board to ensure companies are treating their drivers ethically and taking the right steps to decrease the number of accidents. A smart watch could potentially be more effective than the vehicle itself attempting to detect the driver’s level of exhaustion because it may be able to get a better read on heart rate. Regardless of the specific device used, there should be an effective method soon.

It is exciting that new research and technology allows for improved safety. As was mentioned in this post, the technology to detect when a driver is too tired to drive is already fairly advanced, which means that it will only continue to improve in the future.

Caroline Coulter said...

This is very interesting and reminds me of the technology available in everyday cars like even a Prius. For those who lose focus and drift, cars are now becoming equipped with lane drifting alerts and smart detection to keep people on the road safe. I have yet to hear about this type of technology being implemented into trucks and heavy machinery vehicles, so it seems fitting that the first comment mentions the need for such technology in truck drivers. Autonomous cars are becoming very common but would autonomous trucks be a danger, or could they help with expedited shipping in our fast-tracked world of online orders? The ramifications of implementing drowsiness detectors in with other smart technology could prove to be very beneficial in shipping industries and I would be very interested to see how they could look for not only drifting, as is already available, but to look for measures of someone's tiredness (which as you mentioned is as dangerous as driving intoxicated). The possibilities for safer roads are endless and seem to continue to open up with technology life this- so will autonomous vehicles be able to detect more or give us physical warnings like steering wheel vibration? The prospect is very exciting, as I have read much about the development of smart cars and driverless functions for both safety and convenience (which this would surely serve).