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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Sleepy and distracted?
Beth Stackpole   11/14/2011 9:34:31 AM
You have to applaud Ford's efforts to make this kind of cutting-edge technology available in cars that the average consumer can afford. I'm assuming that the lane-keeping technology can be applicable not just to keep drowsy drivers more alert, but also to serve as a warning for the countless folks distracted by cell phones, texting, and eating during the course of their rides.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Glass half empty?
Dave Palmer   11/14/2011 2:14:24 PM
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A pessimist would say that this is just one more system which could potentially manfunction, thereby prompting future editions of Sherlock Ohms or Made by Monkeys.  I'm not sure I like the idea of a system which automatically applies a steering torque to my vehicle.  It seems like a simpler solution would simply be to not drive while drunk, drowsy, or distracted.

Susan Kuchinskas
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Blogger
Re: Glass half empty?
Susan Kuchinskas   11/14/2011 4:30:12 PM
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You still would be able to steer the car yourself, I assume.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Glass half empty?
Dave Palmer   11/14/2011 5:04:33 PM
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@Susan: I'm sure you could steer the car yourself, but if the microcontroller is sending a faulty message to the electronic power steering assist because it thinks you're going out of your lane, you will presumably have to overcome whatever torque it is applying. Or it might apply the "rumble strip" vibration to the steering column while you are wide awake. I'm not sure how likely either of these two scenarios is, but they are nuisances I'd rather not have to worry about.

Ratsky
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Platinum
Re: Sleepy and distracted?
Ratsky   11/14/2011 5:13:52 PM
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Hear, hear!! I had exactly the same thought reading the article.   Here in Atlanta, despite a fairly strict "no cellphone or texting" law, based on my observations, at least 40% of all drivers I see are breaking those laws, plus another 15-20% distracted in some other way, brushing hair, shaving, reaching down to do whatever, etc.  The only ones who do NOT cross over lane markings while doing so are stopped in traffic or at traffic signals! (the GA law doesn't even allow use of cell phones, etc. even then, but it's rarely enforced at all)  The above applies on city streets and interstates alike.  Maybe in this one case it MAY be possible for artificial intelligence to overcome natural stupidity!

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Glass half empty?
Ratsky   11/14/2011 5:18:10 PM
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I think you missed the part of the article that strongly implied that each of the 3 steps were user-configurable as to capability; thus, if you didn't want the "auto-steering" mode, you could turn that off while keeping the warning, etc.  Or you could just buy a car that would let you suffer the consequences of driving sleepy!

William K.
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Platinum
Drowsy driver detector
William K.   11/14/2011 5:28:05 PM
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Having worked on aproject intended to provide a similar benefit, I can appreciate what Ford is accomplishing. The system will undoubtedly provide a warning, not a correction. My suggestion has been for the signal to be a recorded dog barking, and Ford is welcome to use that idea for free. The challenge is always to develope an algorithm that does not create false alarms. My employer had purchased the rights to some software and hardware that did not really work, except for the one sample that came as the demo. The most difficult part of the development is the code that determines the baseline that the drowsy driver deviates from. The problem with some systems is that they do the calibration right after the trip starts, which is usually before the driver enters the boring part of the trip. We verified that, at least for "big trucks", it was far better to do the calibration about 20 minutes after the trip began.

But the Ford plan of watching for lane departures is not so very new and original, so either they have licensed the technology or found a fundamentally different approach, which the two camera description would imply.

The one remaining problem now is liability, since some fool will fall asleep and claim that "they said it would keep him safe". It will be very interesting to see the instructions and disclaimers associated with their new system.

Alexander Wolfe
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Blogger
Re: Drowsy driver detector
Alexander Wolfe   11/14/2011 6:38:11 PM
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I'd be very interested to learn how the algorithm was verified, and what the legal liability might be in cases of accidents caused. --- proveably or not -- by false positives or false negatives. Granted, this is a warning, not a hard correct, but it's all the more interesting because that's where this technology is headed.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Ford to jog drowsy drivers
William K.   11/14/2011 6:46:56 PM
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The algorithm that my employer puyrchased was never released because the project was cancelled because the technology did not work as claimed. So they are safe on that one. But there are quite a few systems around presently, since the trucking companies find this effort very useful. And I can tell you that there are very few things more boring than watching a video recording of a truck driver getting drowsy.

There is a system that monitors eye blinks, and at least one that watches the lines on the road, another that tracks the drivers focus, and then there was the one we had that tracked the drivers head movements. The failure is that some people can fall asleep without ever nodding their heads.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Drowsy driver detector
Alexander Wolfe   11/14/2011 6:54:42 PM
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I'm wondering what sort of verification testing Ford did as far as assessing false positive and negative warnings and what their potential legal liability might be for accidents (proveable or not) caused by same. Relevant because one day this will be a control, rather than advisory, technology.

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