Inattentive Drivers are Target for New Lane Departure Warning System
22 June 1999
``A Life-Saving Wake Up Call''; Nation's Drowsy and Inattentive Drivers are Target for New Lane Departure Warning System From Odetics ITSANAHEIM, Calif.--June 21, 1999--
New Vehicle Safety System to Help Reduce the Thousands of Accidents and Deaths Caused by Drowsy Drivers; System Emulates Rumble
Strip Sound, Alerts Drivers to Unplanned Lane Departures
A new lane recognition safety system and alarm device aimed at reducing the more than 56,000 automobile accidents caused by drowsy or inattentive drivers has been introduced by Odetics ITS.
Developed in conjunction with Europe's Daimler-Chrysler, the first-of-its-kind Autovue(TM) system alerts drivers when an unintended lane change is about to occur, allowing drivers time to correct the situation in a controlled manner.
Autovue monitors lane markings in the roadway using a combination of sophisticated lane recognition algorithms and proprietary image recognition software and hardware. Additional sensory features not yet announced are in development and will be added to the system in the near future. Autovue is a small, complete image processing system that can be mounted to the windshield, dashboard or overhead. It works by continually gathering visual data and combining it with the vehicle's speed. Through this process, Autovue is capable of recognizing when a vehicle begins to drift too close to the lane markings. When this occurs, the unit automatically emits a distinctive rumble strip sound, alerting the driver to make a correction. This particular alarm sound was chosen after thorough research proved it to be most effective for warning a driver without causing them to overreact.
"Autovue is a breakthrough product for the automotive industry. In light of recent and past reports from the NHTSA on drowsy drivers, there is a huge need for this kind of safety system," said Francis Memole, vice president of vehicle sensors for Odetics ITS. "What makes our product unique is that it not only notifies a driver that they have veered from their lane, it warns them when they are about to, which gives them time to react to a situation before they are in trouble."
According to a report issued June 3, 1999 by the NHTSA, as many as 56,000 crashes annually are caused by drowsy or fatigued drivers who unintentionally drive off the road. Of the reported drowsy driver crashes, 40,000 of them resulted in injuries, 1,550 resulted in death and the numbers are growing. To make matters worse, these statistics do not deal with crashes caused by driver inattention, which is believed to be a larger problem according to the Senate Appropriations Committee report on NHTSA data indications. According to the Expert Panel on Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness, research has validated only one type of device that alarms or awakens drivers who are drowsy or asleep -- shoulder rumble strips placed on high-speed, controlled-access, and rural roads. Rumble strips have proven to reduce drive-off-the-road crashes by as much as 50%. The panel has recommended to the NCSDR/NHTSA, who is planning to conduct an educational campaign to raise awareness of the drowsy driver problem, that they promote shoulder rumble strips as an effective countermeasure for drowsy driving.
"It is, in part, because of the proven success of rumble strips that we believe Autovue will be so successful. The advantage Autovue offers over rumble strips is that the system is available on any lane, not simply the shoulder of a road in certain areas," said Memole.
"Autovue was originally developed for use on commercial trucks. Truckers typically travel long distances and can become susceptible to drowsiness or fatigue. And when a commercial truck veers from its lane, the amount of damage can be tremendous," said Memole. Autovue was introduced in Europe at the Hanover Truck Show on one of Daimler-Chrysler's Actros trucks last year. The system is expected to be unveiled in North America this fall with availability on consumer automobiles by the year 2001.
"Among New York State Drivers surveyed about their lifetime experience with drowsy driving, almost one-half of those who had a fall-asleep or drowsy-driving crash reported a single-vehicle roadway departure: about one-fourth of those who had fallen asleep without crashing also reported going off the road," according to Anne T. McCartt, Ph.D., Deputy Director Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research for the State of New York. Autovue works effectively both day and night and in most weather conditions where the lane markings are visible. By simply using the turn signal, a driver indicates to the system that a planned lane departure is intended and the alarm does not sound.
"With its advanced engineering and relatively low-cost, Autovue is a proven product with the potential to become as much a part of overall vehicle safety as airbags and ABS brakes," said Memole.
Odetics ITS has signed an exclusive joint development agreement with Daimler-Chrysler and with this agreement has received orders for production tooling and material release for the first 1,000 Autovue production units. In addition to Autovue's introduction with the Actros truck, the agreement enables Odetics ITS to market the system to other truck and automotive OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) worldwide on an exclusive basis.
Odetics ITS Inc., a subsidiary of Odetics Inc., is a leading provider of advanced information, software and sensor technologies that improve the efficiency and safety of roadways. Odetics ITS has combined information technology, system integration and applied sensor capabilities to offer a broad range of transportation solutions. For more information, see the Odetics ITS Web site at http://www.odetics-its.com.
Odetics Inc. is a leading supplier of communications equipment for the television broadcast, video security, telecommunications and intelligent transportation systems markets. Odetics' headquarters are located in Anaheim, with additional operations in Europe and Asia. For more information about Odetics, its subsidiaries and divisions, refer to Odetics' Web site at www.odetics.com.
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