In-vehicle lighting key to Continental 'driver focus' concept

  • Image: Continental front halo.jpg
  • Image: Continental (camera DFV).jpg
Image: Continental DFV action shot.JPG

Continental's Zachary Bolton (shown) was the lead engineer for the supplier's Driver Focus Vehicle, a concept that integrates current driver-assistance active safety technologies with a prototype Continental-developed driver monitoring camera paired with a visual alert “halo.”

An infrared driver analyzer camera positioned in the demonstration car’s steering column tracks the driver’s gaze. If the driver’s eyes are off-road when a potential traffic hazard is detected by forward-looking sensors, a trail of lights activates within the interior.

“The comet starts at the point where the driver is currently looking, and then moves to the critical area where the driver needs to focus. The light trail acts as an intuitive guide to the driver,” Zachary Bolton, Project Engineer for Algorithm Development at Continental Automotive Systems, explained to AEI.

Continental’s Driver Focus Vehicle is a 2013 Cadillac XTS fitted with a Continental-developed infrared camera as well as a single line of interior LED lights that wrap around the entire cabin.

“The concept vehicle currently uses four carryover sensors from the production Cadillac equipped with the Driver Assist package. The in-production technologies include the forward-looking camera, long-range radar, and two short-range radar sensors. The only additional sensor to this concept is the prototype driver analyzer camera,” Bolton said.

Because the driver’s face is illuminated consistently with the infrared camera, the direction of the driver’s gaze can be recognized regardless of the ambient light intensity, color, or shadows. The camera is “focused directly on the driver’s face, so it is only his or her movements and actions that are being tracked in-vehicle,” Bolton noted.

For more than a year, researchers from Continental and Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany have been involved in the Proreta3 project. Researchers on the project are developing HMI (human-machine interface) approaches that keep driver awareness at an optimum level, even during automated driving scenarios. Proreta3’s ongoing research formed the foundation for Continental’s Driver Focus Vehicle concept.

The concept demonstrator is essentially an HMI interface extension to the production sedan’s lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control (ACC), and forward collision warning technologies. For instance, a 360° illumination of “halo” lighting occurs during an ACC takeover on the concept car.

In recent weeks, the concept vehicle has been shown to engineers and executives at the CES trade show in Las Vegas and to media at a 2013 Chicago Auto Show press conference.

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