We’ve all heard the news reports of drivers of autonomous vehicles falling asleep at the wheel. And while that may be the extreme, it certainly would be human nature to gaze out the window as the car navigates its own way down the highway. But until cars are fully autonomous, a driver must be alert and ready to take control at any time. While many solutions are available today that are designed to decrease distracted driving, light-enabled solutions are rapidly advancing and making a real difference in the way semi-autonomous automobiles are driven.
One example of such advanced technology is a distracted driver monitoring system, developed by Joyson Safety Systems with Osram Opto Semiconductors. The “Super Cruise” system is in the Cadillac CT6, beginning with 2018 models, providing level 2-3 autonomous driving. Osram considers Super Cruise the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway. The way it works is that Osram’s infrared (IR) LED components, which are embedded in Joyson Safety Systems’ steering wheel lightbar, illuminate the driver’s face enabling the system to monitor driver attentiveness.
Then visible, multi-color LEDs, which are also embedded in the steering wheel, visually warn the driver of the vehicle’s autonomous status.
When Super Cruise is enabled Osram’s Oslon Black SFH 4715S illuminates the driver’s face using invisible light. Joyson Safety Systems’ infrared camera, mounted on the steering column shroud, captures the scene and passes the data to the Driver Monitoring ECU that then assesses the driver, detects the head and eyes and monitors where the driver is looking
The IR light projected toward the face is at 940 nm, which the eye cannot see (it only starts to see red at 860 nm).
Bringing the car to a stop
If the driver looks away for too long, the Super Cruise system sends a series of alerts for the driver to resume focus on the road. If a driver becomes completely unresponsive, the Cadillac CT6 uses the full capability of onboard driver assistance technologies to bring the car to a controlled stop.
Of course, the distracted driver system only works when it’s on, and it uses Osram’s RGB Multiled embedded in the lightbar to indicate when the system is operating and what function it is performing. The LEDs turn green when the Super Cruise system is engaged; blue when the system is engaged but the driver is still holding the steering wheel; and red when the system needs the driver to re-engage control and or attentiveness.
In the Cadillac, Super Cruise works with services like OnStar, precision lidar mapping, in-vehicle cameras, radar sensor and GPS to help automate the driving experience. When Super Cruise detects that the car is on a compatible highway, and that the driver is paying attention, the Super Cruise symbol will illuminate in white on the instrument cluster. By pressing the button, the car can steer itself. If Super Cruise detects that the driver is not looking at the road, and if the driver doesn’t respond after a series of attempts to rouse the driver, Super Cruise will automatically summon OnStar to send help.
As with all rapidly advancing technologies, there is a lot in store for the future of driver monitoring systems. Mike Godwin, Director of Automotive LEDs Marketing at Osram Opto Semiconductors said we only have to look at gesture technologies such as those used in gaming systems like Wii to see what may be in tomorrow’s driving solutions. Add to that, there are time of flight technologies currently used in mobile applications as well as VCSEL technology that can create time of flight imaging with a 3D map. All of these technologies are currently in use in a variety of applications, and the natural progression is for them to evolve into the automotive applications of the future.
Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Novus Light Technologies Today