• Bernardo R. Pires, Principal Investigator
  • Jian Gong, Student
  • Christopher Kaffine, Student
  • Courtney Ehrlichman, T-SET Project Manager

Executive Summary

According to the NOPUS survey, at any given daylight moment across America approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. According to the same survey, this number has held steady since 2010, despite major investments into awareness programs and numerous changes in legislation. Recently, there has been significant interest into automatic detection of driver distraction. Such research often focuses on the driver’s eyes in an attempt to detect gaze direction (determine where the driver is looking at.) The difficulty with such approach is that it either requires active infrared illumination, which can be “blinded” by the sun, or requires significant computation to recognize the driver’s face, determine pose, and estimate gaze. Furthermore, this approaches often requires high-resolution cameras in order to be able to accurately observe the user’s eyes. Instead of focusing on the driver’s eyes, we propose to obtain an overhead or over-the-shoulder view of the car interior with the objective of determining if the driver is holding or using a cell phone or other electronic device. We expect this to be a superior method because the screen is often illuminated, relatively large and, when in use, turned directly towards the user’s head and, consequently, to our over the shoulder camera.