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Honda to develop AI to detect cognitive impairment in drivers

TOKYO >> Honda Motor Co. will develop artificial intelligence technology to detect abnormalities in a driver’s physical condition by analyzing how the vehicle is traveling and any subtle changes in the driver.

The technology is expected to reduce accidents involving senior drivers, which have become more prevalent, and to detect dementia or glaucoma at an early stage. The automaker aims to put the technology to practical use around 2030.

Working with the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, the company is utilizing magnetic resonance imaging and sensors to analyze a driver’s brain and eye movements. The technology is designed to identify the cause of errors that lead to accidents by detecting the driver’s line of sight and using a camera to warn them when a pedestrian is crossing the street.

The technology will be able to flag decline in cognitive function or spatial perception when its sensor detects the car veering or getting close to other vehicles. In addition, Honda will combine AI with the sensor and camera to analyze the driver’s physical condition and any suspected illness.

If a car detects a delay in a driver’s response to traffic lights, it will notify them that they might have tunnel vision, a common symptom of glaucoma. The goal is not just to alert drivers of the risk of accidents, but to serve as an early warning of a possible disease.

With 1 in 4 drivers in Japan over 65 years old, reducing the accidents caused by older drivers has become a priority. The technology could inform older drivers of a decline in their abilities.

Amid fierce competition in the development of technologies, automakers are storing and analyzing driving data to promote safety.

Toyota Motor Corp. has equipped some of its models with an AI system that detects abnormalities in drivers by capturing a driver’s gaze, the direction of their face and how open their eyes are. If the system detects that a driver is distracted or sleepy, an alarm sounds.

Mazda Motor Corp. has developed a new system that uses a camera and sensor to detect drivers’ drowsiness and any sudden illness, prompting the vehicle to slow down or stop. It plans to install the system in new models this year.

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