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Sensors, Vision

Eye-tracking technology could help make driving safer

Researchers at the University of Missouri have developed two eye-tracking technologies to improve collision avoidance and evaluating rear-end accidents for automotive drivers.

By Eric Stann September 29, 2019
Researchers at the University of Missouri are looking at the importance of keeping your eyes on the road with two new uses of eye-tracking technology in relation to vehicle collision avoidance warnings and rear-end accidents. Courtesy: University of Missouri

The old adage of keeping your eyes on the road has a new meaning, thanks to two eye-tracking technology applications developed by University of Missouri researchers.

Designing a better collision avoidance warning

Observing how someone’s eyes change — specifically the pupil — while they respond to an alert given by a vehicle collision avoidance warning could one day help scientists design safer systems.

“Prior to a crash, drivers can be easily distracted by an alert from a collision avoidance warning — a popular feature in new vehicles — and we feel this could be a growing problem in distraction-related vehicle crashes,” said Jung Hyup Kim, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering in the MU College of Engineering. “Therefore, a two-way communication channel needs to exist between a driver and a vehicle. For instance, if a driver is aware of a possible crash, then the vehicle does not have to warn the driver as much. However, if a vehicle provides an alert that, by itself, creates a distraction, it could also cause a crash.”

Kim and Xiaonan Yang, a graduate student at MU, watched how people’s pupils changed in response to their physical reactions to a collision avoidance warning by a vehicle-assisted safety system. Researchers believe they have enough data to begin the next step of developing a two-way communication model.

Evaluating rear-end accidents from a driver’s perspective

A person’s pupil could also help scientists find a way to decrease distracted driving crashes through a first-hand perspective into a driver’s behavior, according to Kim and Rui Tang, a graduate student at MU. Using a driving simulator at the MU College of Engineering, the researchers evaluated a driver’s physical behavior in real-time by focusing on the driver’s eyes as the crash happened.

“We saw the size of a person’s pupil changed depending on the behavioral response to the severity of the accident,” Kim said. “Now, we want to take that data, find common patterns and build a model to test how we could help decrease distracted-driving crashes.”

University of Missouri

– Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

Eric Stann
Author Bio: Eric Stann, research news strategist, University of Missouri.