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Center for Transportation Studies

Researchers study driver fatigue detection

Driver fatigue, resulting from either sleep deprivation or sleep disorders, contributes to many crashes on today’s roads. Because driver fatigue is a leading safety issue, researchers in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, with funding from the ITS Institute, are working on a system to detect symptoms of fatigue, then produce timely warnings that could prevent a crash. A new report by Harini Veeraraghavan and Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, Detecting Driver Fatigue Through the Use of Advanced Face Monitoring Techniques, presents and tests an approach for real-time fatigue detection.

The system described in the report is based on detecting, through the use of a video camera, indicators of a driver’s oncoming fatigue. One such symptom of fatigue is the “micro-sleep”—a short period in which a person loses consciousness for three to four seconds.

The researchers’ approach uses a video camera to capture a continuous stream of images of a driver’s face. From that, their system uses skin color information and “blob” analysis to locate the face and eyes of the driver, then monitors how long the driver’s eyes are open or closed. If the eyes remain closed for a specified period of time (three to four seconds), the system determines that the driver is fatigued and issues a warning signal.

The researchers tested the system on 20 subjects with differing skin color, facial hair, and gender. Overall, the system performed well, detecting the blinks of drivers and giving no false alarms. To read the entire report, visit the report download page or call CTS at 612-626-1077 to request a copy.