One of the latest tools in this move toward a, let’s say senior sibling, state comes from Guardian Optical Technologies, an Israeli outfit promising a whole new view of what’s happening inside the car.
(Guardian creates the training images for those learning systems by hiring diverse groups of people to pile into its fleet of test cars, in different outfits.
The idea of the car watching the driver isn’t new—systems that look for signs of drowsiness have been around for more than a decade—but they are gaining importance as cars offer more advanced driver assistance features.
Because semi-autonomous tools like Tesla Autopilot and Cadillac Supercruise require the driver pay attention even when the car’s doing the work, automakers need ways to make sure their eyes stay on the road.
Along with watching how the driver is behaving, the camera can cast its gaze to other parts of the car.
Dotan wants automakers to use Guardian’s system for all their people-watching needs, and get rid of today’s hodge-podge sensor suite.
He says doing just that could save an automaker up to $370 per car—as astronomical sum in an industry where execs agonize over one- and two-dollar differences.
“The cost per feature is lower, and that means they can sell more cars with higher margins,” Dotan says.
Swapping in a camera-based system would require convincing not just profit-hungry car execs, but the rulemakers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who govern how cars are built and certified.
To make things extra difficult, using a single sensor to do all those things means coordinating work across a sea of engineering groups who deal with different parts of the car.
That point of view, though, raises another question: Will the public accept cameras in their cars?
Cameras inside the car are becoming commonplace, and automakers might be enticed by the chance to sell data around their drivers’ habits and behaviors.
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