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A New Device That Could Revolutionize Safe Driving Practices?

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 4-May-2015

Many new auto safety technologies promise to transform the driving experience by anticipating and correcting for human errors. But which technologies will truly revolutionize the industry? That's an open question, but researchers at Cornell University have developed a very promising concept - a system that can predict when a driver is about to make a mistake that could potentially cause a car accident.

Dozens of auto models already come with safety systems that can alert a driver if he or she is making an unsafe lane change or turn. But these warnings often come too late to prevent accidents. The system developed by the Cornell researchers, however, combines radar and cameras with a robotic system that can predict driver actions. It can warn about hazards around the car. Graduate student Ashesh Jain told Phys.org, “if there’s danger on the left, the left side of the steering wheel or the seat could vibrate.” The system can also give illegal turn warnings based on information from GPS and street cues.

Researchers developed the system using recorded video of 10 drivers passing over 1,180 miles of road during a two-month period. In a test, the system correctly predicted driver actions over three quarters of the time. On average, it predicted actions 3.53 seconds in advance, which is often enough time for a driver to avoid a collision.

The system is still under development, and it may not be released for several years. Improvements to the program may include adding night vision and 3-D cameras to provide greater accuracy. Developers are working to eliminate false-positives, such as reactions to shadows of passing trees. Designers would also like to include alerts for drivers who are in danger because of distractions from their phones or other devices.

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