Driver Monitor System
According to the Administration on Aging, persons 65 years or older numbered 35.6 million in 2002. They represented 12.3% of the U.S. population and are expected to grow to be 20% of the population by 2030. In the last twenty years, the percentage increase in older drivers has been three times greater than the growth of the total driving population. The aging U.S. population generates considerable concern about driver safety, as crashes per mile driver are more frequent in older drivers compared to other age groups. However, while the concern for older drivers is age-related ocular and cognitive impairments that may compromise driving ability, removing the licensure to drive can result in loss of independence and function for an important segment of the population. As such, tests of driving skills need to be as objective and accurate as possible. Currently, states require re-licensure periodically and administer vision tests that have a variable relationship to risk of crashes. Failure can result in either suspension of licenses or, in some states, issuance of a restricted license. In addition, doctors will often require that a special driving assessment clinic review the fitness of a patient to drive. The Driving Assessment Clinic at Johns Hopkins University, for example, has an occupational therapist who reviews patients who have early cognitive impairment of their driving ability. This involves assessment of a person's driving performance done by accompanying the driver. Such an approach requires a large commitment of time and resources, may not be objective if the presence of the observer changes driving behavior, and potentially places the observer at risk in extreme cases.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and the Wilmer Eye Institute have developed a stand-alone Driver Monitor System (DMS) that provides for an accurate read of driver competence without an observer being in the car. The DMS removes the requirement of an observer to be in the car, and thus can more objectively record driving behavior. By utilizing the DMS, the ability of a person to operate a vehicle is assessed by recording a data set that can allow the reviewer to determine the fitness of a person to drive by accessing metrics of driving behavior and observing video data. In particular, the data set is composed of:
* Imagery of the traffic conditions - are the driver's reactions appropriate
* Imagery of the driver - is the driver actively aware of the situation
* The accelerations experienced by the car
* The location of the vehicle - can be overlaid on to road maps for further data analysis
At the end of the test period, the DMS would be removed from the car and the data downloaded to the host computer for archiving and analysis. The trained personnel can view the data in non real time as well as having an automated system perform the task of data reduction before personnel review, resulting in the cost in time and resources being greatly reduced.
Researchers have developed a working prototype of the technology, which has been used to evaluate the driving performance of a number of elderly drivers. The system has been designed to be easy to install and remove, requiring no significant interfacing to the automobile.
*Johns Hopkins University is seeking a partner to commercialize this technology.CONTACT:
Mr. M. T. Hickman