Subaru Driver Assist Detects Distracted & Drowsy Drivers

June 1, 2018

Driver focus will track and measure your eyelids to detect real time changes in how frequently you blink, to quickly and accurately when driver fatigue is putting you and your passengers in danger. It also has the ability to literally memorize your retina in order to detect when you’re staring off into space or distracted by your phone. The sheer level of technological innovation present in Subaru’s driver monitoring system may be unsettling to some, but it’s no different than facial recognition technology that has become increasingly common in smartphones and tablets, and Subaru has made it clear the technology only operates in real time and doesn’t record data.

Detective distracted driving is about saving lives

For many drivers, the thought of driving on the freeway while watching a video on YouTube or checking your instagram likes is inconceivable, but the fact of life is that distracted driving is increasingly the #1 factor for accidents, surpassing impaired driving in some jurisdictions. The world health organization estimates that in total, human error is responsible for about 1.3 million deaths every year, while a report by the centre for accident research and road safety in Queensland found that 1 in 4 car collisions are caused by distracted drivers. Furthermore, the Queensland University of Technology found that out of 800 surveyed drivers, a whopping 77% reported that they have used their mobile phone while driving. While quickly glancing at a test message or picking up a phone call may not seem as dangerous or foolish as catching up on the weather or watching a video, the fact is that it only takes a moment of distraction to get into a potentially life-altering accident. This is why Subaru has made detecting distracted and fatigued drivers a cornerstone of the driver monitoring system; at the end of the day, it’s about saving lives.

Subaru’s driver focus system is not to be confused with eyesight, which is quickly becoming standard in every Subaru model. While eyesight comes with an impressive suite of safety options, it does not include facial recognition or the small, hidden infra-red led camera in the dash which is the main feature. Currently, it is only available in Subaru forester models, but we expect it to start transitioning to vehicles across the brand soon.

So how does it work?

The unobtrusive camera memorizes a driver’s facial features to track any changes that may indicate fatigue or distraction, and also measures face orientation, blinking intervals and studies driver behaviour to the point where it will event detect if the driver is discretely looking down at their lap to check messages. If a driver is staring off into the distance or looking at their phone, the car will beep and flash an internal warning in order to refocus your attention, unless turning signals show that you are changing direction. The eyesight safety features work in concert with driver focus to, for example, provide a distraction warning sooner if it spots a vehicle in front of you.

Audible warning to alert drivers

Based on factors such as how often you’re blinking or your facial expression, driver focus has the ability to recognize two distinct stages of tiredness: drowsy and extremely drowsy. If the driver is found to be dozing off, or if their eyes are wandering, a visual and audible warning will alert them, even muting factory-fitted satnav so the alert is always clearly heard.

Enhanced driver convenience

And while distracted and fatigued driving are the two main focuses of driver focus, the technology has also made the driving experience more convenient and comfortable by offering the ability to remember a driver’s preferred preferences, with the option to save up to five profiles. When a driver with a registered profile hops behind the wheel, they’ll see and hear a welcome message and the driver’s seat and side mirrors will slide into your preferred position. You can also restore all previous preferences, including climate control settings, audio settings, instrument display and multi-function display settings.

Subaru’s driver monitoring system is so advanced it has been developed to still recognize a driver if they’ve grown a beard, are wearing sunglasses or if it’s light or dark out. The technology has been tested on people of different ethnicities, different ages, identical twins and more, using a series of cutting-edge algorithms to recognize drivers with a stunning degree of accuracy. It also takes into consideration the camera’s different views, based on changing seat positions and how facial expressions may appear in different levels of light or weather conditions.

Subaru’s driver focus is a true example of intelligent design. Whether it’s alerting the driver for signs of distraction or sleepiness, or memorizing a facial profile to adjust the cabin environment for optimal comfort and convenience, Subaru’s driver monitoring system is the definition of confidence in motion.

Subaru driver assist is able to memorize your retina in order to detect when you’re staring off into space or distracted by your phone.