- Volvo announced on Monday that it is experimenting with "driver sensors" in order to cut down on inattention behind the wheel.
- The technology can detect closed eyes or what the driver is looking at.
- The long-term goal of the technology is to "create cars that get to know their drivers, "Volvo said.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Volvo announced on Monday that it is experimenting with "driver sensors" in order to cut down on inattention behind the wheel.
The technology, which is already in test vehicles, can detect closed eyes or what the driver is looking at.
The long-term goal of the technology, which is dubbed "Driver State Estimation," is to "create cars that get to know their drivers, "Volvo said.
Volvo isn't the only automaker making inroads into this technology. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class features "attention assist," which senses driver inattention or drowsiness and illuminates a coffee-cup alert icon. The system works over a 37-124 mph speed range.
Mercedes-Benz said the navigation system on the S-Class will automatically point out service areas within range when a break from driving is detected.
Volvo's sensor system is located on the dashboard in front of the driver. Small LEDs illuminate the driver with infrared light, which is then monitored by the sensor. But the driver does not notice the infrared light because it is just outside the wavelengths that the human eye can see.
"Driver sensors are also opening up other possibilities," Volvo said in a statement. "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 recognizing the person sitting behind the wheel.
To recognize the driver, the sensor measures between different points on the face to identify the driver.
Edmunds says: Volvo said a car equipped with driver sensors does not save any pictures, nor does it have a "driver surveillance function," which should be reassuring to the skeptical.