Texas residents may have read media reports concerning a pedestrian in Arizona who was struck and killed by an SUV that was being used to test autonomous vehicle technology by the ride-sharing company Uber. The accident serves as a reminder that drivers should remain vigilant at all times even if their vehicles are equipped with the latest electronic safety systems, and a startup technology company is developing software designed to ensure that they do.
Boston-based Affectiva develops software that scrutinizes facial expressions and can be installed in the driver-facing cameras already fitted to vehicles with autonomous systems. This software monitors eye and head movements and can alert drivers who may have become distracted, and major auto manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz are reportedly interested in adding it to their vehicles.
Similar systems are being developed by a number of car makers, and General Motors currently offers this type of feature on certain Cadillac models. It illuminates the steering wheel and emits an audible warning when it determines that drivers may be allowing their minds to wander. If the person behind the wheel fails to respond to these alerts, the system slows the car to a halt, engages the hazard lights and notifies authorities using the OnStar communications system.
In addition to monitoring road conditions, traffic movements and driver inputs, the latest automobile technology also stores large amounts of data. When the drivers involved in an accident blame one another and police reports come to no firm conclusions, experienced personal injury attorneys could study this information to determine what transpired in the moments prior to the crash.