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AI technology may have prevented Uber crash

Autonomous vehicles are marketed as being able to operate without the assistance of a human driver. For example, California-based Waymo made a commercial that showed passengers taking selfies in the back seat of its self-driving minivan. However, autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles still require the watchful eye of a driver in order to prevent accidents. This became clear when an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in March.

The Uber vehicle featured a driver-facing camera, and video of the crash showed that the car's driver was distracted seconds before the impact. According to safety experts, there is already technology available that could have detected the driver's inattention before the collision. This technology uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze a driver's eye movements, eye closure rate and head position to determine if they are paying attention to the road. When the technology determines that a driver is distracted, it issues a warning. If Uber had paired this software with its driver-facing camera, the accident may have been prevented.

Makers of semi-autonomous vehicles are already using a form of this technology. For instance, Cadillacs use it to monitor drivers who operate their cars in "Super Cruise" semi-autonomous mode. The steering wheels feature a tiny camera that can track the eye and head movements of the driver. If it detects the driver is not paying attention, it flashes a light and issues a warning beep. If the driver fails to respond to the warnings, the car slowly decelerates, activates its hazard lights and calls for help.

Victims of motor vehicle accidents may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. An attorney may be able to review a victim's case and recommend the best course of legal action.

Source: Quartz, "An AI-powered design trick could help prevent accidents like Uber's self-driving car crash," Dave Gershgorn, March 30, 2018

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