These are just some of the safety features currently available in Volvo’s new-generation models. Never satisfied, the Swedish manufacturer has announced that it is in the process of developing a new generation of sensors that can detect when the driver’s eyes are closed and even determine where the driver is looking atany given time.
The new sensor will be placed in the dashboard and its primary function is to detect where the driver is looking, the head position and angle as well as how open the eyes are. The system can keep the vehicle in the correct lane, maintain a safe distance to the cars around it and if need be, wake up the driver.
The driver becomes visible to the system with the use of small LEDs that illuminate the driver with infrared light, which is then monitored by the sensor. Infrared light is just outside the wavelengths that the human eye can see, which means that the person behind the wheel doesn’t notice it at all.
The sensor can be used for other things too. By monitoring eye movements, the car would be able to adjust both interior and exterior lighting to follow the direction in which the driver is looking. The car would also be able to adjust seat settings by recognising the person sitting behind the wheel.
The sensor would be measuring between different points on the face to identify the driver. Sensor technology such as this is key in what is known as the Driver State Estimation, a field that may be key to self-driving cars in the future.