This week, Seeing Machines was pleased to submit comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as it seeks to update the New Car Assessment Program. Seeing Machines exists to get people home safely. Our RFC submission gives us an opportunity to prove how we do it.
Euro NCAP has raised the international standard for safety. Starting in 2023, Euro NCAP will require new vehicles to use Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS), similar to General Motors’ Super Cruise®, powered by Seeing Machines’ DMS technology. These systems can detect distracted and drowsy drivers. Points are awarded for vehicles that alert the driver to distraction and fatigue, with more points for cars that can actually stop the car. The U.S. has a similar opportunity to require DMS in vehicles with an updated NCAP program.
Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation released a National Roadway Safety Strategy based largely on the international Safe Systems Approach. One of the key components of this approach is having “safer vehicles” to stop traffic crashes. New safety technologies can’t come soon enough. NHTSA released fatality estimates for 2021 and the numbers are grim. Traffic deaths increased by 10.5% to the highest percentage in 16 years.
NHTSA’s RFC was focused on the potential inclusion of ADAS technologies including Blind Spot Detection, Blind Spot Intervention, Lane Keeping Support, and Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking in the US NCAP program. These systems are a good start, but DMS must be a part of any ADAS system in order to maximize safety and ensure public acceptance.
On their own, ADAS systems can be abrupt. For example, an Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) System may suddenly apply brakes in a jarring way that is not naturalistic to the driver. However, by combining AEB and DMS, the overall system can be set to different sensitivities. Scaling ADAS sensitivity to drivers’ state is important for achieving both the desired safety benefit and driver experience.19
ADAS features will work more effectively when DMS is included in the safety suite. Warning-only systems for external objects (cars, pedestrians, etc.), like Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), are effective only if the driver sees or hears the warning. When DMS is integrated with other safety systems, like Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), the systems can work collaboratively in-vehicle to improve safety and enhance the driving experience.
The RFC also had specific focus on approaches to reduce injury arising from distraction and alcohol related crashes. Our submission provided information about how DMS works and its effectiveness at detecting distraction and fatigue.
The best part about DMS is that it is ready now. Beginning with the Super Cruise® system, Seeing Machines is proud to be working with 10 different car makers as part of 13 automotive programs and in over 110 vehicle models.
As part of the last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the U.S. Congress has required NHTSA to use DMS as a possible solution to increasing traffic deaths. The BIL includes two critical provisions calling for rulemakings on distracted driving, impaired driving, and updates to NCAP. The new law would allow for DMS to serve as a solution to all these problems.
In addition to Congressional and European recognition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports, both recommend DMS as part of any driver assist system. As part of their safety rating system for consumers, IIHS and CR award vehicles that use DMS when automating steering, braking, and acceleration work together. This is further recognition that DMS works and is a key component of any ADAS technology group.
Time is of the essence. The BIL sets timelines that require NCAP updates as well as impaired and distracted driving technology in new cars in the next few years. The shocking rise in traffic deaths points to the immediacy of the need to do more to save lives and prevent injuries. Seeing Machines exists to get people home safely and we stand ready to work with NHTSA and others to help improve vehicle safety as part of the National Roadway Safety Strategy.
Our submission is available here.