Will Your Car Be Watching You While You Drive?

Our last post focused on vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems being tested on a wide scale here in Michigan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes that technology allowing vehicles to communicate with one another will reduce the number of serious and fatal car accidents and ultimately improve the driving experience.

Many futurists believe that fully automated cars are the final destination on the safety journey. But in the meantime, advancing technology continues to focus on detecting and correcting for human error.

According to an article in “Wired,” General Motors recently signed a deal with a company called “Seeing Machines.” The automaker plans to purchase devices for about 500,000 vehicles that track the driver’s eye and face movements. The technology is apparently sophisticated enough to detect where a driver’s eyes are looking at any given moment and how long their eyes have been focused somewhere other than the road. Along with other software monitoring the face, these devices can reportedly watch for signs of distracted or fatigued driving and warn drivers accordingly.

Higher-end foreign automakers are offering similar technology in their own vehicles, and such devices could have significant life-saving potential. But if and when this type of technology becomes standard issue, there are also privacy and liability concerns.

If, for instance, a person injures another driver or pedestrian in a car accident and distracted driving is suspected, will eye and face-detection data be used in court? Who owns that data, and how/where should it be stored?

These are certainly complex questions that will likely present themselves in coming years. And although we are not there yet, we can continue to look forward to the day when all driving is left up to the machines themselves so that human error is no longer a risk.

Source: Wired, “Your Next Chevy May Watch You Watching the Road,” Jordan Golson, Sept. 3, 2014

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