Inattentiveness is the cause of many vehicle accidents. We may counsel drivers not to take the wheel when tired or stressed, but that is not a practical option for most people.
Education is another approach that looks good on paper but has not delivered in practice: European driving tests are much more comprehensive than those in the US in particular, but the regions suffer similar fatality and accident rates. However help is on the way: the latest camera-based safety systems aim to counter these unavoidable human conditions. Such systems, according to ABI Research, will enjoy a market well in excess of $100 million by 2012.
â€œAcknowledgment of the inherent flaws in human beings has led automobile manufacturers and suppliers to develop new technologies that can save drivers from themselves,â€ says principal analyst David Alexander. â€œSystems that can analyze road situations and provide additional warnings to drivers have started to appear in newer car models, and the camera is at the heart of many of them.â€
Keeping cost down is critical to consumer acceptance, and indications are that the newest machine vision technology will make these advanced safety features affordable for all.
â€œHaving the car look out for other vehicles and track the road ahead is one major area of current development,â€ adds Alexander, â€œbut watching the driver and passengers is another very important camera-based application that is beginning to emerge.â€ Occupant detection and monitoring allows â€œsmartâ€ automobiles to customize airbag deployment to the size and position of the passengers. As this technology advances there will be additional safety and comfort capabilities added.