Panel: Tech tricks will cut driver distraction
Systems can screen calls, keep drivers awake
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
DETROIT -- With the right technology, connected vehicles could reduce distracted driving, a panel of auto industry executives said at the Automotive News World Congress.
Automakers and suppliers are developing vehicle systems to help alert drivers to potential dangers and, at times, make it safe for them to do something other than drive.
Doug Patton, a senior vice president at Denso International America Inc., said Denso is developing an interface between man and machine that can help drivers stay focused on driving.
The technology, for example, can block a cell phone call at times when the driver's workload is heaviest -- for example, when driving on a highway with semis on either side. Or it could blow cold air from the air-conditioning vents during low-workload times -- say on a long stretch of straight Montana road -- to keep drivers awake.
"As we move forward, that will provide a more comfortable and safe environment for the driver," Patton said.
Connectivity and high-tech driver assistance systems also could make safe autonomous driving systems a reality by 2025, panelists said.
Helmut Matschi, member of the executive board of supplier Continental Automotive, said partially automated driving in slow stop-and-go driving will be possible by 2016. Hands-free driving where drivers will be alerted and given time to resume manual control will be possible by 2020, he said.
The key will be refining the way systems take over for a driver, then alert the driver when it's time to resume manual control.
"Disengaging is the easy part," Patton said. "Getting him back engaged at the right time and at the right speed -- that's what's going to be so important."
Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, said automated driving technologies likely will enter the market before 2025, but a fully autonomous vehicle along the lines of Google's driverless car "goes too far."
"Maybe we could see a taxi cab driven like the Google car," Willisch said. But in the premium-car segment, he said, people "want to drive themselves and still have the ability to enjoy their car."