Scientists steer car with eyes

April 26th, 2010 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 26 (IANS) Believe it or not, it’s now possible to steer a car through your eyes using a new software. So say scientists.
At the former Berlin Tempelhof Airport, project head Raul Rojas and his team from the Artificial Intelligence Group of the Freie Universitat (FU) recently demonstrated how they can steer a vehicle equipped with complex electronics, using the eyes.

As part of this project, they developed a research vehicle, Spirit of Berlin. More than 60 journalists from around the world watched the event.

Computer scientists at FU, in collaboration with SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), developed a prototype application, the eyeDriver software, for steering Spirit of Berlin, using eye movements.

The function involves collecting the eye movements of the driver and then converting them into control signals for the steering wheel. The speed is controlled separately and is not included in the eyeDriver.

In the “free ride” mode, the viewing positions are linked directly with the steering wheel motor. The further the driver looks to the left or right, the further the steering wheel is turned in that direction.

The speed of the vehicle is set in advance and kept constant, as long as the position of the gaze is recognised. In case it is not possible to detect which direction the driver is looking in, the vehicle brakes automatically.

When there is an intersection, the car stops and asks the driver to select the next route. This requires the driver who wears a helmet to look to the left or right for three seconds.

If his gaze lingers long enough in one direction, the eyeDriver software confirms acoustically that the choice has been accepted.

The decision is communicated to the planner in the vehicle. Then the artificial intelligence in the Spirit of Berlin can plan the route and continue to run independently.

Rojas is a professor of artificial intelligence at the Institute of Computer Science at FU. He gained international success with his soccer robots, the “FU-Fighters.” Since 2006, Rojas and his team have been designing technologies related to autonomous vehicles.

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