Bosch has developed a feature to detect increasing driver fatigue and advise drivers to take a break in time. Bosch driver drowsiness detection can improve road safety for commercial vehicles in particular, whose drivers are on the road for hours each day.
The level of fatigue is determined based on information from the steering-angle sensor or the electric power steering.
“The steering-angle sensor is already on board in many commercial vehicles as part of ESP,” says Dr. Werner Struth, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. “The feature can therefore be used cost-effectively and helps to further increase road safety.”
Bosch driver drowsiness detection is a software module. Its series production will start before 2010 is over. The system can be used in passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and also be integrated into various control devices in vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States calculated in 2006 that fatigue at the wheel was a major factor in 20 percent of all accidents. According to the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) in Germany, the figures are even higher for commercial vehicles. A study by BASt showed that fatigue was the second most frequent cause of serious truck accidents on German highways.
The need for sleep most often causes brief periods of inattentiveness that result in specific steering patterns. The algorithm of the new driver drowsiness detection analyzes the driver’s steering behavior to detect something called “deadbands.”
Deadbands are phases in which drivers briefly stop steering, and then abruptly correct their behavior – often a sign of fading concentration. The system combines the frequency of these reactions with other information, such as vehicle speed, time of day, and use of turn signals, to calculate the level of fatigue. If that level exceeds a certain value, an icon such as a coffee cup flashes on the instrument panel to warn drivers that they need a rest.