Research group creates system to catch people doing distracted driving

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When driving, there are a number of things that you should not even think of doing. Texting while driving is one of the most irresponsible and dangerous of them. However, in spite of every effort by the authorities to curb this activity, a lot of people still text while driving. Now, a group of engineering researchers from the University of Waterloo has come up with a possible solution to this problem. This group developed a system which uses a combination of cameras and artificial intelligence to determine if a driver is engaged in distracted driving.

This setup detects hand movements which are different from normal driving behavior. It then classifies the according to their potential threat level. Also, the system takes into account the length of particular actions and information about surrounding vehicles. This means that if you text while driving on a busy highway, it would be considered a lot more dangerous than adjusting your car radio on a quiet country road.distracted driving

This system can also be used to trigger protective measures, which include warning the driver about his/her behavior, or temporarily taking control of a car that has self-driving features. Given that distracted driving is reportedly a factor in up to 75 percent of traffic accidents worldwide, this system could be a major benefit. For one thing, drivers that text while driving would be warned of their actions, and punished by losing control of their vehicle if possible.

Here’s a statement by Fakhri Karray, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Waterloo, about the system:

“Distracted driving is one of the major causes of car crashes around the world. In this work, an artificial intelligence-based system is investigated for driver distraction detection. A full prototype with both software and hardware has been designed, implemented and tested, based on the latest tools of deep learning AI and computer vision. The work is motivated by its performance in designing next-generation self-driving cars, and by alerting in real-time a driver of the imminent danger if his or her action when undergoing text messaging, drinking, reaching objects at the back or side seats, calling on the phone, operating a radio, or other devices on the dashboard.”


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