Driver prediction technology could make us even safer

Accidents on our contemporary roadways are mostly our fault. Thanks to improvements in car safety, reliability and general driveability, 90 per cent of all accidents on the road are caused by driver error. That’s why we’re such big champions of automated technology and telematics, as with those systems in place (the latter before the former of course) we should see big reductions in collisions and fatalities on the road.

However something that could complement both systems while we await our fully driverless car future, is facial analysing technology that could predict our actions before we even make them. Developed by universities from Stanford and Cornell University, the Brains4Cars system utilises a camera that is able to track details like face and head movements, as well as spot cues in body language that can tell whether the driver is making a turn, or changing lanes, at which point the system can then utilise its sensors to let you know whether it’s safe or not.

Feedback can be as simple as an audio cue or more subtle like a vibration in the steering wheel if the lane you’re looking to pull into has a fast approaching car in your blind spot. Utilising databases of road information and GPS tracking, the system can even give you warnings if you’re driving down a one way street, or are going too fast for a particular stretch of road, even if you’re under the speed limit.

The system is still quite basic at the moment and is based simply on recorded driving habits of 10 different drivers over a couple of months. However, as more drivers are added to the database of knowledge, the software should become more accurate at tracking faces and body language, which would make it far more useful.

From watching the above video, some have questioned whether the tracking tech is accurate enough, since it seems to mostly pick up on large head turns at certain times. There is also a question of whether the sunglasses being worn could impact its detection rates, but the developers have argued that the tech is good enough to track people with or without sunglasses and can pick up on even small movements to detect whether someone is looking to change lanes.

How would you guys feel with this sort of camera technology in your car? Do you want a constant video feed of your actions behind the wheel?

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

    All author posts