AI and Distracted Drivers

AI and Distracted Drivers

In recent times, a major topic of debate is Artificial Intelligence. Some believe it is the solution to many of our problems, while others are worried about AI replacing them at jobs. But what even is AI? Artificial Intelligence is the branch of computer science that aims to make machines ‘intelligent’. It means that a computer would be able to think like a human and take decisions on its own.

When you mention AI to someone, their first thought will probably be of Siri or Alexa or a similar chatbot. That, however, is just one branch of AI called Natural Language Processing (NLP). But what about those Tesla self-driving cars? How are they made? The technology used in that branch of AI is called Computer Vision. Computer vision is an AI technology that allows computers to understand and label images. Computer Vision entails not just enabling computers to see but also making sure they understand and learn from what they see.

The importance of computer vision lies in the problems it can solve. Computer vision can be used for a very diverse range of tasks including medical use, facial recognition and road sign detection. Additionally, computer vision has more recently been used in convenience stores, driverless car testing, daily medical diagnostics, and in monitoring the health of crops and livestock. So computer vision is fairly useful in the world. 

One specific application of computer vision can be to check whether a driver is distracted. 

According to the CDC, every day in the U.S.A, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. In a study by Progressive Insurance, 33 percent of participants feel “very confident” in their ability to text while driving. However, 90 per cent of study participants feel it should be illegal. Sleep deprivation is the cause of around 20% of fatal crashes in the USA.

Almost all of these figures can be reduced by keeping the driver attentive while driving. To reduce these figures, we can use machine learning and computer vision to warn the driver when they are distracted, keeping them attentive on the road ahead. Using Artificial Intelligence, we can create and train a computer system to recognise whether a driver is asleep by monitoring key features such as their eyes, head position, and even sound clues. If they are asleep, the car could sound an alarm. 

Such application of Artificial Intelligence is beneficial for all and will surely save many lives and resources all over the world.

-Aarush Shah

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