Connect with us


Mainstream autos get driver-monitoring devices



This image provided by Subaru shows Subaruโ€™s โ€œDriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System.โ€ The system uses a dashboard camera to watch the driverโ€™s eyes and face. If it sees the driver is looking away from in front of the vehicle for an extended period, it will beep and the message โ€œKeep eyes on roadโ€ will show on the dashboard. The system watches for heads nodding or someone talking on the phone or texting, or even looking into the back seat, said Subaru spokesman Ron Kiino. (Associated Press: TOSHI OKU/Subaru of America)

DETROIT โ€” Would you pay more for a car or SUV that warns you if you’re falling asleep or not paying attention behind the wheel?

Auto companies are figuring that because your life could depend on it, you will.

As safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane-centering make their way from luxury vehicles down to lower-cost rides for the masses, distracted driver alert systems are coming with them. At last month’s New York International Auto Show, Hyundai and Subaru both announced such systems in mainstream vehicles.

Every day, at least nine people are killed in the U.S. and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Drivers who are preoccupied by cellphones, dashboard touch screens and other distractions caused 3,157 fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2016, the latest year that government statistics were available. That’s 9% of all fatal crashes in the country.

Distracted driver alert systems started showing up in luxury cars about a decade ago. Mercedes-Benz had a system that displayed a lighted coffee cup icon on the dashboard. Over the years they’ve become more sophisticated and made their way into mainstream vehicles, usually on pricier versions.

For instance, Subaru’s “DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System” uses a dashboard camera to watch the driver’s eyes and face. If it sees the driver is looking away from the front of the vehicle for an extended period, it will beep and show the message “Keep eyes on road” on the dashboard. The system watches for heads nodding or someone talking on the phone or texting, or even looking into the back seat, said Subaru spokesman Ron Kiino.

On the newly redesigned 2020 Outback SUV, the system will be standard on the three priciest versions, the Touring, Touring XT and the Limited XT, and it will be an option on the Limited, the lowest cost version with leather seats. No prices for those models have been announced, and it won’t be available on cheaper versions.

The Subaru system made its debut as standard equipment on the luxury version of its Forester SUV for the 2019 model year. To get it, you have to buy the priciest version, the Touring, which starts at $35,270, more than $10,000 above the lowest-priced model.

Hyundai’s system is standard on the Venue, an entry-level SUV that will start under $19,000. It doesn’t watch the driver’s face. Instead, it uses the same front-facing camera as the standard automatic emergency braking and lane assist. If you swerve or veer, the Venue’s software will sound a bell and the dash display will politely show a coffee cup and the words “Take a Break.”

Hyundai’s market research found that people want the feature, said Mike Evanoff, senior manager of product planning. “It’s just another layer that’s a ‘got your back’ kind of thing,” he said.

The warning system is already on Hyundai’s Veloster sports car and will make its way to the entire lineup as vehicles are updated and outfitted with standard automatic emergency braking by September of 2022 in an industry agreement with the U.S. government, Evanoff said.

Subaru, which has made safety a cornerstone of its marketing efforts, says its buyers are safety conscious and will be interested in the feature, even if it costs more. And if the system is too annoying, customers can turn it off, Kiino said.

Other systems on luxury vehicles are more sophisticated. The one on Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous system makes sure the driver is paying attention and will even pull to the side of the road if they aren’t. Mercedes’ Attention Assist system tracks more than 70 variables including time of day, elapsed driving time and steering movement to determine if a driver is tired or not paying attention. When a certain threshold is reached, it issues audible and visible warnings.

Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Kelley Blue Book, said the devices are proliferating as vehicles make the transition from human drivers to full automation. Systems like Tesla’s Autopilot and Super Cruise, which control steering, braking and speed under certain conditions, are steps toward autonomous cars, but they can’t drive themselves because humans must be ready to take over, he said.

“If you’re going to have systems like that, you need these driver monitoring systems to make sure that humans aren’t abusing the technology,” Brauer said.

But not everyone will be interested in being monitored. Chris Cerino, 49, of Wadsworth, Ohio, near Cleveland, said he’s old enough to know that he has to pay attention while driving.

“That kind of stuff is not going to make a terrible difference for me now. I understand. I learned my lessons,” said Cerino, who is selling a 2009 Subaru Outback.

Cerino said there’s too much automation these days, but conceded he would probably want the feature if he still had young children. Then again, he might turn it off.

“There’s a time and place for a lot of things, but I don’t need to be told when to hit the brakes or when to swerve or everything else,” he said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NHTSA issues ANPRM on camera monitoring systems as alternative to mirrors



Last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted an exemption requested by Stoneridge Inc. allowing its MirrorEye CMS to be installed as an alternative to conventional rear-vision mirrors currently required on commercial motor vehicles in the United States. (Courtesy: STONERIDGE INC.)

WASHINGTON โ€” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that could eventually lead to camera-based rear visibility systems, commonly referred to as camera monitoring systems (CMS) as an alternative to inside and outside rearview mirrors.

The federal motor vehicle safety standard currently requires that vehicles be equipped with rearview mirrors to provide drivers with a view of objects that are to their side or to their side and rear.

In a notice published in the Federal Register Thursday, NHTSA said the ANPRM responds to two rulemaking petitions: one pertaining to light vehicles from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Tesla and one from Daimler Trucks North America relating to heavy vehicles.

The agency said the ANPRM builds on the agencyโ€™s prior efforts to obtain supporting technical information, data, and analysis on CMS so that the agency can determine whether these systems can provide the same level of safety as the rearview mirrors currently required under federal regulations.

There is already some development underway in the CMS arena.

Last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted an exemption requested by Stoneridge Inc., allowing its MirrorEye CMS to be installed as an alternative to conventional rear-vision mirrors. The exemption applies solely to Stoneridgeโ€™s MirrorEye system, making it the only CMS that allows for complete removal of traditional mirrors in the United States, Stonebridge said in a news release.

In issuing the ANPRM Thursday, NHTSA acknowledged that part of its responsibility in carrying out its safety mission is not only to develop and set new safety standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, but also to modify existing standards, as appropriate, to respond to changing circumstances such as the introduction of new technologies.

โ€œExamples of previous technological transitions that triggered the need to adapt and/or replace requirements in federal safety regulations include the replacing of analog dashboards by digital ones, the replacing of mechanical control systems by electronic ones, and the first production of electric vehicles in appreciable numbers,โ€ the Federal Register notice said.

The agency said it was publishing the ANPRM to gather information and receive feedback to enable the agency to decide whether (and if so, how) to propose amending federal regulations on rear visibility to permit camera-based systems as an alternative compliance option in lieu of outside rearview mirrors or in lieu of all rearview mirrors, both inside and outside ones. Specifically, NHTSA said, it hoped the ANPRM, through the public comment process, will provide the agency with additional safety-related research and data to support a potential future rulemaking on this subject.

NHTSA said it was asking for information based on 21 questions among the following seven categories:

  • Existing industry standards
  • System field of view and related test procedures
  • Image quality and related test procedures
  • Rearview image display type related human factors
  • Side rearview image display locations, driver acclimation and related test procedures
  • Camera durability, reliability and related test procedures
  • System availability when vehicle ignition is off

The ANPRM can be found at, and on

The deadline for public comments is December 9.

To comment online, go to, follow the instruction on the site using docket number NHTSAโ€“2018โ€“0021.

Continue Reading


Transflo offers Samsung Galaxy Tablets running the Transflo Mobile+ Platform



Developed specifically for professional drivers, the Transflo Mobile+ app allows users to manage all their work from a single mobile app on one device. (Courtesy: TRANSFLO)

TAMPA, Fla. โ€” As Transflo continues to grow its digital workflow platform for commercial truck fleets and drivers, the company now offers the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch 32GB LTE tablet compatible with the Transflo Mobile+ app and all Transflo products and services, including the industryโ€™s leading electronic logging device (ELD) for mobile platforms.

Drivers can easily access information including electronic records of duty status on the Galaxyโ€™s clear, bright 8-inch touch display, and its LTE connectivity ensures seamless cloud integration and compliance with U.S. FMCSA regulations for wireless transfers of hours-of-service data.

โ€œThe Samsung Galaxy Tab A running the Transflo Mobile+ app is the perfect solution for anyone currently using our ELD or who is about to transition to one,โ€ said Vice President of Product and Innovation Doug Schrier. โ€œItโ€™s the only device that fleets and drivers need to manage a mobile workflow and get more done, anywhere and everywhere the job takes them.โ€

Schrier said the Samsung Galaxy Tab A uses the Android operating system, has 32GB internal storage, dual cameras (for document scanning), and a 1.4GHz quad-core processor for a combination of fast performance and power efficiency. Transflo also offers a range of mounting and charging options to keep the device powered up and secure inside the cab.

Developed specifically for professional drivers, Schrier said the Transflo Mobile+ app allows users to manage all their work from a single mobile app on one device. Additionally, Transfloโ€™s ELD bundles offer complete fleet solutions that integrate with the mobile app and include: document scanning; integrated GPS-based navigation; weigh station bypass technology; two-way messaging; and services for finding fuel, truck scales, and other essential services.

Transflo offers the Samsung Galaxy Tab A with data plans through AT&T and T-Mobile.

For more information about tablets and Transfloโ€™s ELD bundles, please visit





Continue Reading


McLeod Software creates AI Truck Racing League for understanding machine learning



A McLeod Software official said his company believes its creation of the AI Truck Racing League as a learning tool is important and how it will be fun to see which company lifts the AITRL Champions Cup at the end of the inaugural season. (Courtesy: MCLEOD SOFTWARE)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. โ€” McLeod Software has created the AI Truck Racing League (AITRL), a new organization focused on advancing the understanding of Machine Learning technology in the transportation industry.

โ€œMachine Learning is not yet widely understood by many, but to help companies gain a better understanding, we have set up a fun racing simulation as a way for companies to learn and participate. At McLeod Software, we realize Machine Learning is the future happening now. That is why we have created the AI Truck Racing League and the McLeod Software Racing Team,โ€ said Vice President of Special Projects Ken Craig.

AITRL’s open platform enables member-racing teams to use industry standard cutting edge AI technologies. Developers can train, evaluate and tune their AI models using either Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning, Reinforcement Learning or any combination thereof.

Virtual world simulation will be done on AITRLโ€™s website or locally at the racing teamโ€™s office. Teams will be able to select virtual trucks to race in the 3D simulator on tracks inspired by famous raceways. Each track will bring new challenges that the AI models need to conquer as they prepare for the AITRL Championship Cup.

Craig said the company invites transportation companies and allied suppliers to experience the excitement of racing mixed with the thrill of teaching an inanimate object how to think.

Each member of AITRL will have their own intra-company team which will train virtual trucks as they hone their AI models. Each member team will produce a champion by racing their virtually trained trucks on a virtual track with a 1/18 scale semi-truck. These champions will represent their member team in inter-company competitions and compete for the AITRL League Cup.

โ€œWe look forward to working with this great group of companies to advance the goal of understanding how Machine Learning will become both practical and efficient for transportation companies,โ€ Craig said. โ€œWe work continuously to ensure that McLeod customers sustain a competitive advantage, and have full access to important technologies, developed by McLeod Software or our Partners. We believe our creation of AITRL as a learning tool is important for this reason, and it will be fun to see which company lifts the AITRL Champions Cup at the end of the inaugural season.โ€

Initial entrants fielding a racing team for the AITRL include Kingsgate Logistics, SONAR, Decker Truck Lines, and Echo Global Logistics.

To learn more about the AI Truck Racing League and how you can participate, please visit

McLeod Software is a provider of transportation and logistics ERP solutions. The companyโ€™s LoadMaster and PowerBroker products include CRM, dispatch operations, EDI, accounting, billing and settlements, carrier, driver and trip management, business process automation, visual workflow management, and document management systems, all specifically developed for trucking.

For more information about McLeod visit at

Continue Reading