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A New Canadian Technology Could Help Curb Distracted Driving

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distracted driver

Distracted driving is a negative phenomenon that puts both the driver and others at risk.
Photo: Hershel Venkat Talluri

Considering that 80% of traffic accidents result from distracted driving, this seems to be a significant factor to address in the effort to minimize collisions and driving-related fatalities. Some automakers have started implementing driver assist features meant to reduce driver distraction. For example, Cadillac’s Super Cruise system uses infrared camera to sense the driver’s head position and help keep the driver focused on the road.

Canada has just presented an innovative potential answer to the distracted driver problem. Researchers with University of Waterloo’s Centre for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence have invented new software that has the capacity to sense when drivers are distracted or texting. The prototype for this technology employs the use of dashboard-mounted cameras to detect hand movements and algorithms. Also takes into consideration the vehicle’s location, speed, and road conditions.


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The software then interprets this data to rank these motions as potentially dangerous or not dangerous. If it senses potentially dangerous level of distraction, the software will visually and audibly warn the driver. If the vehicle has autonomous functions, the software could trigger the self-driving function to assume control of the vehicle in cases of extreme distraction.

But how do the signals know which human motions are dangerous and which ones are normal during the driving process? The University of Waterloo’s team incorporated something called end-to-end deep learning into the software’s algorithm when they created it. “Unlike pattern recognition-based algorithms, deep neural networks learn from the huge number of samples presented to them to build their capabilities,” explains program director Fakhri Karray.

The one-year goal for this technology is for the software to function as a standalone system, though it will take a few more years before auto manufacturers figure out how to effectively sync the software’s alerts with the vehicle’s built-in technology.


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News Source: Wired

  • Whitney BurchEditor

    Whitney Burch is a current resident of Dayton, though her spirit can be found beach-bumming on Puerto Rico (the land of her half-Puerto Rican heritage that she has been gifted to visit…and plans on visiting again sometime when the Future deems it practical!). When not adventuring through the exciting world of car news, she can be found hiking with her boyfriend and their growing-up-too-fast Labrador puppy, motorcycling, reorganizing and/or decorating some corner of the world (most likely in yellow), researching random things, scribbling on her blog, and escaping into a great movie, poem, or short story. See more articles by Whitney.