Automakers and researchers around the world are busy developing numerous types of safety technologies that aim to make our commutes safer, and one group at the University of Leicester’s Centre for Systems Neuroscience is focusing its efforts on the threat posed by fatigued driving.
This isn’t a danger to take lightly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,550 people are killed and 40,000 more injured every single year because of a vehicle operator falling asleep.
The experiments utilize a combination of brain monitoring and eye monitoring systems to provide an assessment of the driver’s current level of attention and wakefulness. LED lights are pointed at the participant’s eyes while an EEG keeps track of the individual’s thoughts. In this type of controlled setting, the two types of systems can work in unison to gauge what a person’s brain and eyes look like when they’re on the verge of falling asleep.
At the moment, the research is still taking place in a lab. However, researchers hope that they could have an application ready for outside use in less than five years. The issue of attentiveness grows in importance when you consider the many pieces that have to be in place if self-driving cars are ever to be adopted. The report says that, as such technology is unrolled, it will be vital to understand a driver’s state of mind so that control is only handed back over when a driver is ready.