Greek Researchers Developing System to Wake up Sleepy Drivers

Greek researchers are currently wor­king on a smart system that will be able to monitor alertness levels in drivers, recognize symptoms of sleepiness and give drivers a wake-up call, according to a report by Greek New agency ANA-MPA last week.

The system is being developed by the Greek Transport Institute IMET at the National Center for Research and Technology Development in Thessaloniki.

According to IMET's research director Evangelos Bekiaris, it is expected to be completed in early 2008 and will go into production for use by car manufacturers within the next five years.

Bekiaris said the system comes equipped with micro and nano-sensors that will be able to measure levels of wake­fulness and warn drivers when they are becoming dangerously sleepy or distracted, so as to ensure safer driving behavior in drivers who are tired or have drunk alcohol - conditions shown to be responsible for a large percentage of serious accidents.

Researchers have found that sleepiness increases the risk of an accident by three or four times more than when a driver is alert. While it is responsible for 15-20% of accidents overall.

They also found that the 2-3 seconds before accidents take place are usually crucial.

"In this tiny space of time, a normal vehicle will have already covered 70 meters before its driver reacts if it is traveling at 100 km. an hour.

The reaction time of the driver is critical and is reduced when he or she is sleepy or distracted, " experts said.

"Within the vehicle will be placed micro-cameras that will measure the rate of movement of the eyelids and sensors in the steering wheel, the seat and the roof will measure the pressure applied by the hands, the course and position of the vehicle relative to the lanes and the surrounding vehicles, as well as themo­vement of the body and the driver's head, " scientists .explained.

The system will then be able to use algorithms to calculate when these pa­rameters do not meet the requirements for normal and safe driving and warn the driver to stop, either with an auditory message or a visual message appearing in the mirror or even a" vibrating buzzer" fitted in the seat belt that will wake the driver up.

(Posting date 4 December 2007)

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