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Transport

Seat is tackling distracted driving with smart camera tech

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A partnership with Eyesight Technologies explores computer vision applications for safety

Spanish car maker Seat is working on artificial intelligence technology to combat driver fatigue.

The Barcelona-based manufacturer’s Xplora unit has teamed up with Israel’s Eyesight Technologies on the project. The novel safety tech tracks a driver’s head movement and eyes and, according to Seat, can detect if they are drowsy, falling asleep or distracted.

Keep your eyes on the road

Xplora is a relatively new venture for Seat, established in 2017 to seek out companies to partner with on connected car and smart mobility innovations.

Its latest collaboration involves intelligent cameras that can assess the openness of the eye, the angle of vision, blinking rate and head position, plus other visual attributes.

An alert is triggered should the AI model detect the driver is drowsy, asleep or distracted by their smartphone.

According to Seat, the same tech can be used to identify a driver from previous trips and adjust the seats, mirrors, heating settings and other cabin features according to their preferences.

Ultimately, the software will also be able to detect pedestrians and analyze whether the driver has spotted them.

Seat is working with another Israeli company, Gauzy, to develop glazing that can adapt to different weather conditions. Drivers will be able to darken windows, within legal limits, to avoid being dazzled by the sun or lighten them in darker environments or weather conditions.

The company says the tech is geared towards reducing accidents. Research by the Commission of European Communities has shown that driver tiredness and distraction are contributing factors in 36 percent of road traffic collisions.

Stefan Ilijevic, head of product innovation at Seat, said: “In total more than 90 per cent of the road accidents in Europe are caused by a human factor. The main reasons include distraction and tiredness, excessive speed and alcohol and drugs.

“At Seat, we are working on solutions to prevent negligence behind the steering wheel and significantly reduce road accidents.

“We partner with some of the world’s brightest companies on important technology to save lives, since our long-term vision is a world with zero accidents.”

The Xplora division has been tasked with finding solutions that enhance the wellbeing and safety of drivers, cyber security of vehicles and sustainability of the manufacturing process; it has worked with more than 200 emerging Israeli businesses in just over two years.

The division's aim is to carry out a minimum of 10 proofs of concept annually to test how certain innovations would perform.

Aitor Aizkorreta, Seat’s head of scouting in Israel, said: “A concentration of emerging companies makes Tel Aviv one of the easiest global innovation hubs to explore for solutions that improve our cars and services.”

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