Safety and Convenience Innovations Powered by Interior Sensing

Posted By
Glen De Vos
Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Aptiv

One of the exciting technologies we had on display at the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month was Aptiv’s interior sensing platform. Using the latest generation of cameras and radars, the system can recognize and respond to drivers’ and passengers’ body positioning, gestures, and eye movement. It’s a simple concept based on sophisticated software, and this one technology opens the door to a whole host of innovations ranging from comfort and convenience to lifesaving. 

With Aptiv Driver State Sensing, when the car senses that the driver is distracted – or even asleep – it can sound an alert or take other appropriate actions. With 41% of crashes resulting from driver inattention or distraction, and another 7% resulting from sleep, this is a critical advance in itself.

We’re taking the idea a step further by integrating that capability with exterior sensors. For more than two decades, Aptiv has led the industry in sensing and perception systems, introducing the industry’s first automotive-grade radar, the first exterior sensor fusion of radar and vision, and the first AI-powered 3D Gesture Recognition System. 

It’s with that deep background and understanding of the vehicle systems that we approached the application of interior sensing. For example, at CES we showed Aptiv Interior/Exterior Sensor Fusion, which allows a car to detect when a driver is distracted or unaware of a hazard outside the vehicle and proactively warns them to prevent a life-threatening incident before it occurs.

Another potentially lifesaving advancement is Aptiv Child Presence Detection. Aptiv uses multiple sensing modalities that can help inform and take action if a child is inadvertently left behind. We can use radar, ultrasonic sensing, or cabin cameras  powered by AI algorithms to detect the presence of a baby. Our advanced radar is the most reliable solution for this, as it can sense for both heartbeat and respiration, even through dense blankets or other obstructions. These technologies provide a range of options for manufacturers, and through our integration capabilities, we can fully customize them to vehicle manufacturer specifications, enabling intelligent and effective response protocols.

Just getting started

These capabilities are just the beginning. Think about what is possible when you can sense where occupants are looking or pointing. Aptiv has given it a lot of thought – and in fact, we demonstrated all of these new technology solutions at CES:

  • Aptiv Intelligent Interior Lighting. If the vehicle knows where a driver is looking, it can be smart about the interior lighting. For example, it can selectively illuminate displays or areas of the car when occupants need it, based on where they are looking. It can dim areas or displays that aren’t being looked at to save energy. If someone reaches down to the floor to pick something up, the car can turn on a light in that area.
  • Aptiv Point-to-Search. If the vehicle knows where a driver is pointing, it can couple that information with the telematics system to provide information about landmarks or areas of interest outside the vehicle. 
  • If the vehicle knows that a passenger has their feet up on the dashboard, it can sound an alert that the person is out of position, or prevent a potentially catastrophic airbag deployment. When the car can see whether everyone is buckled, sensors in the buckles themselves are unnecessary.

What we’re finding is that there are significant opportunities for innovation when it comes to interior cabin sensing that extend well beyond simply being able to tell if drivers have their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Our industry-leading driver state sensing and gesture control technologies are just the starting point. With our insights into AI and how we can connect to all of the sensors in a vehicle, we will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.

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