Don’t get angry behind the wheel; your car might be watching your emotions

Dozens of new cars watch the road ahead for impending collisions with cars, pedestrians, and other large mammals. Now, though, cars might just start watching you, too.

Volvo announced today that it is testing dashboard-mounted sensors that watch the driver for signs of fatigue or distraction.

Small LEDs emit beam infrared light onto the driver’s face so that the sensors can read facial cues in any condition.

Monitoring which direction the driver is looking or whether they’re falling asleep can help enhance Volvo’s existing safety systems, which monitor the road ahead. If your Volvo knows you’re not watching the road, it can more closely monitor for lane departures, etc.

The benefits of the technology don’t end there. Volvo foresees using these sensors to also recognize drivers, allowing for immediate and automated seat setting adjustments. Also, it can use facial cues and line of sight to adjust interior lighting.

Volvo isn’t the only automaker watching drivers, though. PSA Peugeot Citroën is working with Swiss scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to help prevent road rage with a similar infrared sensor set.

Unlike the Volvo system, the Peugeot system isn’t watching to see if you’re sleepy but rather if you’re furious by identifying seven universal emotions: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, or suspicion.

“We know that in addition to fatigue, the emotional state of the driver is a risk factor,” the researchers said, according The Daily Mail, adding, “Irritation, in particular, can make drivers more aggressive and less attentive.”

Although the tests have encountered setbacks accurately identifying the way individuals display anger, the idea behind the study to prevent all forms of distracted driving – even anger.

While watching the driver might seem a bit creepy, it’s one of the final hurdles facing automakers in preventing accidents. But if you’re the kind of consumer who is worried about privacy, you might not want to buy a new car ever again.


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