Virtual back-seat driver could save your life

June 16, 1999

PULLING out into the fast lane when a juggernaut is bearing down on you is not one of life's best ideas. So it is just as well researchers are developing a car that can predict when you are about to make a dangerous move and help you avoid disaster. By observing your behaviour, the car can tell if you are going to turn, change lanes, brake or pass another car in the next few seconds, and if need be it will activate appropriate warning or override systems.

By shifting the emphasis of car safety away from the design of the vehicle itself and looking more towards the driver's behaviour, the developers believe that they can start to build cars that adapt to suit people's needs. The research was a joint project between Andrew Liu at Japanese car maker Nissan and Alex Pentland at the Massachusetts' Institute of Technology. They say tests using a driving simulator showed their system to be 95 per cent accurate at predicting drivers' moves 12 seconds in advance.

Liu and Pentland's system relies on the fact that simple driving behaviours can be broken down into long chains of simpler sub-actions, including preparatory actions. Even car passengers, after a little thought, should be able to predict what a driver will do next, say the researchers. To make its predictions, Nissan's smart car uses a computer and sensors on the steering wheel, accelerator and brake to monitor a person's driving patterns. A brief training session, in which the driver is asked to perform certain manoeuvres, allows the system to calculate the probability of particular actions occurring in two-second time segments.

The statistical technique behind the system is similar to that used in speech recognition software. When driving normally, the driver's behaviour is continually monitored for patterns. When a recognised pattern crops up, the system predicts the action most likely to follow. And since it continually updates the probabilities of these actions, it can adapt to the individual driver, getting more accurate all the time.

Some of Liu's earlier work involved tracking eye movements to recognise what a driver was doing at any one moment. In theory, he says, this predictive system could easily be adapted to monitor just the driver's eyes. This would mean an even earlier warning system, since the distinctive eye movements a driver makes when turning, for example, happen well in advance of the actual manoeuvre.
Author: Duncan Graham-Rowe
New Scientist issue 19th June 1999


New Scientist

Related Driving Articles from Brightsurf:

Driving behavior less 'robotic' thanks to new Delft model
Researchers from TU Delft have now developed a new model that describes driving behaviour on the basis of one underlying 'human' principle: managing the risk below a threshold level.

Warming temperatures are driving arctic greening
As Arctic summers warm, Earth's northern landscapes are changing. Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the region has become greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.

Software of autonomous driving systems
Researchers at TU Graz and AVL focus on software systems of autonomous driving systems.

Driving immunometabolism to control lung infection
When drugs to kill microbes are ineffective, host-directed therapy uses the body's own immune system to deal with the infection.

Representation of driving behavior as a statistical model
A joint research team from Toyohashi University of Technology has established a method to represent driving behaviors and their changes that differ among drivers in a single statistical model, taking into account the effect of various external factors such as road structure.

Improving the vision of self-driving vehicles
There may be a better way for autonomous vehicles to learn how to drive themselves: by watching humans.

Impaired driving -- even once the high wears off
McLean researchers have discovered that recreational marijuana use affects driving ability even when users are not intoxicated.

Self-driving microrobots
Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms.

AI to determine when to intervene with your driving
Can your AI agent judge when to talk to you while you are driving?

Cooperating may result in better self-driving experience
To better understand and predict the outcomes of the steering wheel control dilemma, contrary to many previous studies, in a paper published in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica, Dr.

Read More: Driving News and Driving Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to