Hyundai Mobis Co. will debut a narrow self-driving safety system aimed at drowsy drivers at CES 2018 this week, in a bid to jump ahead of competitors in the autonomous race and broaden its U.S. customer base.
The system simply pulls a car over to the side of the road if it detects the driver has fallen asleep. Dubbed DDREM for Departed Driver Rescue & Exit Manueuver, existing cameras and radar detect when a driver has dozed off and activates a Level 4 self-driving system to will steer the vehicle to safety.
SAE defines Level 4 systems as being able to drive autonomously in defined conditions with no driver interaction required.
The company is currently in the final stages of r&d on the systems components, and hopes to bring it to market by 2022.
Drowsy driving is a problem that has long-plagued carmakers and safety advocates. Exact accident numbers are difficult to assess, but NHTSA data indicates that from 2011 to 2015, an average of 824 fatalities per year could be ascribed to drowsy driving, or 2.5 percent of the total vehicle fatalities in that period. In 2015, 90,000 vehicle crashes were due to drowsy driving, or 1.4 percent of total crashes that year.
For Hyundai Mobis — No. 6 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global auto parts suppliers — tackling drowsy driving with autonomous tech offered an opportunity to showcase creative thinking without having to play catch-up against competitors who are ahead in self-driving r&d, like Waymo or General Motors.
The company wanted to "come up with a solution to a specific problem," said David Agnew director of autonomous vehicle development at the supplier's North American r&d center.
Existing safety solutions from carmakers like Audi and Volvo use a variety of methods to predict when a driver is drifting off and then try to alert the driver. Hyundai Mobis' solution builds on this technology, using a driver-facing infrared camera to detect sleeping drivers. The company has partnered with research institutions to examine hours of video footage of sleeping drivers to teach the system to recognize sleeping drivers.
The system could not be optionally activated by a driver, has a fail-safe to avoid being tricked into self-driving mode, and is only designed to allow up to one-mile of autonomous driving. Because the system is so narrowly tailored, Agnew says validation by regulators will be shorter, not requiring the hundreds of thousands of miles of real world testing that systems aimed at full urban driving require.