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Saab tests infra-red driver system

Saab has developed a safety system that sounds a warning buzzer if the driver’s attention strays long enough to risk causing an accident.

Two miniature cameras with infra-red lenses are installed in the car to monitor the driver's eye and head movement. As soon as the driver's gaze moves away from the central part of the windscreen in front of the driver a timer starts counting.

If the driver's eyes and head do not return to the 'straight ahead' position within about two seconds, a buzzer will sound. And if there is still no response, a brake pulse will be delivered through the car's ESP system.

The system is sophisticated enough to detect when the driver is looking in the rear-view mirror or turning a corner – and will allow more time to elapse before activating the buzzer.

The software is also speed-sensitive, so it can distinguish the different conditions in city driving and faster highways.

Two cameras are currently fitted to a 9-3 Sport saloon development car, one at the base of the driver's A-pillar and the other in the centre of the fascia. In commercial production, these mini-lens cameras would be hidden behind the main fascia panelling.

No decision has yet been made about putting the system into production.

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