Steering wheel sensor detects drowsy drivers
In an effort to find a less cumbersome and cheaper approach to alerting drowsy drivers than camera-based symptoms, researchers at Washington State University Spokane have developed a new technology based on readings from sensors in the steering wheel.
The engineers analyzed data from 29 participants who were placed on a simulated 10-day night shift schedule that caused moderate levels of fatigue, as assessed by their performance on an alertness test known as the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT). During each night shift, participants spent four 30 -minute sessions on a high-fidelity driving simulator, which captured data for 87 different metrics related to speed, acceleration, steering, lane position and other factors.
The results showed that the two factors that best predicted fatigue were variability in steering wheel movements and variability in lane position. The researchers determined hat data on steering wheel variability can be used to predict variability in lane position early on, making it possible to detect driver drowsiness before the car drifts out of its lane.
The technology utilizes inexpensive, easy-to-install parts, including a sensor that measures the position of the steering wheel and its developers say it could be installed in the factory or as an accessory.