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Transportation Input Devices Technology

EyeDriver Lets Drivers Steer Car With Their Eyes 166

Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that German researchers have tested a new technology called eyeDriver that tracks a driver's eye movement and, in turn, steers the car in whatever direction they're looking at speeds up to 31 mph. 'The next step will be to get it to drive 60 miles per hour,' says Raul Rojas, an artificial intelligence researcher at Berlin's Free University. A Dodge Caravan fitted with eyeDriver has been tested on the tarmac at an abandoned airport at Tempelhof Airport. However, it remains unclear when — or if — the technology will be commercialized, as questions about safety and practicability abound: What about looking at a cute girl next to the road for a few seconds? Not to mention taking phone calls or typing a text while driving. But the researchers have an answer to distracted drivers: 'The Spirit of Berlin' is also an autonomous car equipped with GPS navigation, scores of cameras, lasers, and scanners that enable it to drive by itself. And should the technology-packed vehicle have a major bug, there's still an old fashioned way of stopping it. Two big external emergency buttons at the rear of the car allow people outside to shut down all systems."
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EyeDriver Lets Drivers Steer Car With Their Eyes

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  • Boobies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gront ( 594175 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:01PM (#31962208)
    So we want cars to steer towards what we are looking at? Seriously? You want to have all the cute women in the world run over?
    • Re:Boobies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gerf ( 532474 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:05PM (#31962258) Journal
      Of course abnormal distractions would be bad. But just think of the normal ones like "road signs" or "checking blind spots" or "looking out for unexpected traffic." Yeah, this is neat, but with the inherent risks involved in driving as it is, probably a bad idea.
      • No kidding.

        Distractions are one thing, and a good, focused driver MAY be able to avoid many of them. But good, focused drivers also need to look around the road to check for drivers who aren't that good, or for pedestrians who are jay-walking, or for children who run out on the street. Good drivers will (and should) check all around themselves for any potential dangers and not just stare straight at where they want to go.

        Whoever thought of this idea was probably a poor driver who never looked around his car

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tibit ( 1762298 )

        It's not even that "abnormal distractions would be bad" -- it would be completely, absolutely crazy to drive like that.

        Landing a plane, on the other hand -- that I could potentially agree on. Some studies show pilots staring at the far end of the runway say from 200ft down to ground contact, so that could potenitally work. It's sort of a reflex thing they do in visual conditions.

        Driving on a long stretch of straight road sometimes looks like that too, when you analyze the eye movements.

        But in "normal" drivi

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheLink ( 130905 )

          > Landing a plane, on the other hand -- that I could potentially agree on.
          > Some studies show pilots staring at the far end of the runway say from 200ft down to ground contact,

          Nah, it's still a stupid idea. If the pilot just looks at something else the plane changes direction, during a _landing_? That'll kill lots of people.

          No thanks, I'd rather have the autopilot land the plane - that stuff can aim the plane at a fixed point.

          See: []

          > Say, if you're paralyzed

          • Right. And to expand - they look at the end of the runway for a precise reason...

            If the end of the runway is "moving up" then they are going to lawndart before the runway. If the opposite is true, then they will miss the runway entirely.

            So, they watch the end of the runway because it's one of the critical things they need to monitor - approach angle.

      • Wait a second. You could train the system to find boobies for you, recognize them and tell you to look back at the road!

        On the other hand, if the girl with boobies has a T-shirt with a "dangerous curves" road sign... it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy :D

    • Re:Boobies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shogun ( 657 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:06PM (#31962270)

      Pretty much what I came here to say.

      This will rapidly drive natural selection towards unattractiveness being a survival trait..

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So we want cars to steer towards what we are looking at? Seriously? You want to have all the cute women in the world run over?

      The infamous Homosexual Agenda(TM) reveals its master plan at last...

    • Re:Boobies (Score:5, Funny)

      by Quantumplation ( 1692804 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:11PM (#31962330)
      Passenger: "I'd hit that!"
      Driver: "Yea, so would I!"
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        More like:

        Driver: "I'd hit that"
        Passenger: "Dude, I think you already did."

    • I think it's time to invest in a clothing company that sells burkas.
    • You want to have all the cute women in the world run over?

      Well, this is slashdot, after all. Cute women, bullying jocks, idiotic high school teachers, Bill Gates. It could make for a long list.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:33PM (#31963574) Journal

      So we want cars to steer towards what we are looking at? Seriously? You want to have all the cute women in the world run over?

      While the comment WAS funny there is a problem with something like that already.

      It's been known for decades that drunk drivers tend to fixate on flashing yellow lights and then steer toward them. This makes using flashing yellow lights as a warning counter-productive.

      Oregon, for instance, long ago switched away from blinky-yellow lights to the rear on police cars to use as warning lights when they have people pulled over - with a significant reduction in car-hits-cop-at-traffic-stop incidents.

      California, of course, has standardized on big yellow blinky-lights for cop car pullover warnings. (I recall a few years back when San Jose was lamenting how many of their new fleet of cruisers had been smashed by drunk drivers that year...)

    • "Wow, can she really wear shorts that sh-" **CRASH**
    • by MikeFM ( 12491 )
      One of the funniest things I ever saw was two very expensive convertibles do a head on crash into each other along Miami's South Beach as both drivers (male) did head swivels to check out the hot girl walking by in almost nothing.
    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Or dogs.. or road signs.. kids at the bus stop... or that moron that keeps weaving back and forth 3 cars ahead..

    • Sure someone drives into a jogger at 60mph, but then a few people turn their heads at the gruesome sight.. they just cant look away.. Then the concerned people realize whats going to happen and cant look away.. before long you have smoking piles of cars in a mountain of carnage.
  • Dangerous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Manip ( 656104 )

    So what happens when a long legged angel in a summer dress walks past? Is she going to get run over?

  • Make sure you don't go into REM sleep at the wheel!
  • I Thought It First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Asphalt ( 529464 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:03PM (#31962244)
    just sayin
  • What next? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Some.Net(Guy) ( 1733146 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:04PM (#31962252) Homepage
    Once they figure out how to steer the car by thought, I'm going to be at Taco Bell a lot.
  • why rehash a joke thats ALREADY IN TFS. 4/6 comments so far are redundant. you guys aren't even trying today.

    granted, neither are the editors.

    back on topic: WTF? this is a fucking terrible idea. i hate researchers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cosm ( 1072588 )
      Possible use in fighter jets, video games, or controlled environments, perhaps say a UAV pilot locked in a room. An interesting idea, but a terrible initial application.
      • Except for the odd moment here and there, good fighter pilots are looking at/for things in lots of places other than where they want the plane to go. There would seem to be few real-world situations where driving requires such a single-minded focus, with no checking to the sides (or up and down in a plane). Baja racer, perhaps? And then there's always the question of throttle and braking...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by linguizic ( 806996 )
      Dude, this is /. -- we don't READ the FTS, these jokes are all new to us ;)
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:06PM (#31962276)

    "Two big external emergency buttons at the rear of the car allow people outside to shut down all systems"

    It can only be stopped if it is stopped...
    Or someone with a rock and extremely good aim!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mysidia ( 191772 )

      They need to be on the front of the car and be automatically triggered just by a pedestrian looking at them.

      Also, they need to not shut down all systems, only acceleration systems -- braking needs to still work.

    • So, you're stopped at a light and a kid slaps the button and runs off... good idea, not.

  • Why would they use Dodge Caravan (and call it...'The Spirit of Berlin' O_o ) when there's so many German minivans for the taking? (heck, VW popularised the concept)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Moofie ( 22272 )

      You know the new VW minivans are Dodge Caravans, right?

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        That's not even available outside of North America, which tells best how much of a VW that is.

        But there's Touran and Sharan, if limiting ourselfes to VW.

        • by Moofie ( 22272 )

          "which tells best how much of a VW that is."

          I'm not sure I know what that means. VW says it's a VW, but it's made by Chrysler.

          (I'm trying to figure out what either of those companies got out of the deal, but maybe I'm crazy...)

          • by sznupi ( 719324 )

            Yes, that's what I mean; it tells how much of a VW that (car) is = barely a VW at all.

            Chrysler more cars sold, effectively and VW quick entry into a market with a bit local needs?

    • That's debatable. Minivans today more closely resemble the Renault Espace than the VW Van. Although the Dodge Caravan launched a few months before the Espace, and definitely had more of the VW Bus's 'pedigree' evident, its subsequent revisions made it resemble the Espace more and more closely.

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        I don't think that invalides VW popularising the concept. For another example - Model T is a large part of kickstarting the whole car craze...yet you won't really find similar cars on the road these days. Or VW Beetle, which in a way picked up where Model T left; also not many cars very like it today (even New Beetle is only superficially similar)

        Plus, there are compact MPV (Touran) cars which don't really descend from Espace. Well, to be fair they do from Renault Scenic ;>

  • In other other new, bad looking women don't seem to notice the change.
    • by Asphalt ( 529464 )

      In other other new, bad looking women don't seem to notice the change.

      Leave your mother out of this.

  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • 360 Awareness (Score:2, Informative)

    by jepaton ( 662235 )

    Driving in the direction you are looking is a terrible idea.

    Here in the UK you don't pass a driving test without using your rear view mirror, your side mirrors; and looking when appropriate through the side or rear windows. Just because you are looking for potential dangers doesn't mean you want to steer into them (e.g. a car overtaking you). Applying makeup etc. or tuning the radio would be unusually lethal.

    Jonathan Paton

  • Ok so you have emergency stop buttons on the back of the car outside? This brings roadrage to a whole new level, don't like the guy in front of you, give em a nudge and wave goodbye.

    I would hate to have this on my car.

    • Not to mention that it would be a boon for carjackers. This whole thing is about the worst idea for technology that I've ever heard. How do people get paid to come up with this shit?
  • bad idea (Score:1, Redundant)

    by treebeard77 ( 68658 ) *
    How many attractive women are going to be plowed down by idiots who can't take their off them?
  • Wow!!!!! (Score:1, Redundant)

    Look at that... CRASH!!!!... babe.

  • This scheme can only work in muslim countries with strict requirements for women to cover themselves.
    Anywhere else and all the pretty women will soon be run over and killed.

  • 3... 2... 1...

  • You know, the first thought I had when I read this was: as soon as this goes live there will be a rash of hot women mowed down on the street...

  • by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:19PM (#31962412) Homepage

    Kind of like the EyeDriver, but Steve Jobs drives your car with his own eyes. This ensures a consistent driving experience, so long as you only want to go where he sends you.

  • This is a terrible idea because it unnecessarily links control of the car together with attention. Even covert attention (moving your attention around without moving your eyes) is coupled to the eye movement system in the brain (covertly shifting attention to a different part of the visual field really involves planning eye movements towards that spot). You need to have control of your vehicle uncoupled from this process, since driving requires you to pay attention to many things at once. There's no re
  • Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't Blink. Good Luck.
  • by Runefox ( 905204 )

    One of the first things you learn in any driver's education class is to constantly scan the road ahead of you and pay attention to your surroundings while driving, which involves a lot of eye movement (generally in the direction of forward, but eye movement nonetheless). What happens to this system when your eyes are looking a few cars ahead? What happens to the system when you're trying to make a lane change? What happens when reversing?

    It's an interesting concept, but... Well, tracking eye movement for ve

  • Why??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curate ( 783077 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:33PM (#31962524)
    What problem is this actually trying to solve? Are people really finding it too difficult use their arms to drive? Or is this aimed at people who can't drive right now, because they have no arms?
    • There ARE people with no arms.
    • Re:Why??? (Score:4, Funny)

      by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:46PM (#31962644)

      What problem is this actually trying to solve? Are people really finding it too difficult use their arms to drive? Or is this aimed at people who can't drive right now, because they have no arms?

      Well, one arm to hold a cell phone, another to hold your: sandwich, doughnut, coffee, burger, fries, or coke.

      So yes, most people don't have arms to spare.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )

        Well, one arm to hold a cell phone, another to hold your: sandwich, doughnut, coffee, burger, fries, or coke.

        That's what knees are for!

      • by Aeiri ( 713218 )
        That's what the feed bag [] is for!
      • by marciot ( 598356 )

        What happens when you spill hot coffee into your lap and look down at the mess you made? Does the car somehow drive itself into your crotch?

    • by Minupla ( 62455 )

      I suspect this was in jest, but I knew a quadriplegic (depending on the vertebra where the cord is damaged, you may get some use of hands. In his case, he had gross muscle control of his left hand, but fine muscle control was nonexistent) once, who had to use an incredibly complex hand control to operate a vehicle.

      This sounds like it would be a huge win in simplicating the life for someone like him. You reduce the number of controls he needs from "left, right, acel, brake" to "acel, break, go where I'm l

    • >>What problem is this actually trying to solve?

      I don't know what the problem was, but the "solution" will be people driving into women with large breasts.

    • by dr.g ( 158917 )


      That was the third thing I thought of. (first, the "running over hot women" thing, then the "That comment will be -1, redundant in about 5 minutes".)

      What the fuck is the market for this?? I mean, I have as much empathy for paraplegics as anyone but I wouldn't think the potential sales would justify the development cost.

      I had a '59, '58 Ford 3/4 ton once long ago (yes, it was already old), no power nothin'. Manual steering, brakes and a long stick floor shifter. That thing was a job to drive, like actua

    • by Trip6 ( 1184883 )

      45k highway deaths a year is why. These technologies when perfected will save countless lives, maybe yours one day.

      • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

        If you think eye tracking makes the road safer than you know how you can save lives on highways? Never ever drive a car again since you evidently are a disaster waiting to happen.

        See, anyone who knows how to drive spends a lot of time not looking directly in front of them. You usually know what's in front of you. The danger comes from the sides or from behind. If you want to avoid it you better keep an eye out for it.

  • An old saying that suddenly starts to seem a lot more important.

    Unforunately now, you can't look both ways at a 4-way stop anymore, because you'll wind up turning.

  • by aukset ( 889860 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:39PM (#31962574) Journal

    Advanced driving courses always teach scanning techniques for driving that include looking not only where you are going, but constantly scanning for pedestrians on either side of the road, cars that may or may not see you about to turn in front of you, cars in your left and right side mirrors, and cars in your rear view mirror. They also teach to always have an escape route: if the unexpected happens, always have a place you can steer to to avoid a hazard without crashing into another car or a pedestrian. You can't do these things if you always have to look only where you want the car to go. Peripheral vision is not acute enough to pick up, for example, the shadow of a person's feet beneath a huge SUV parked on the side of a road, where that person may suddenly step out in front of you without looking since the SUV is blocking both your and their line of sight. Unless entirely autonomous, the vehicle's control surfaces HAVE to be independent of eye movement, because situational awareness depends on it (even in some cases the ability to turn your head to check a blind spot, or to see if your kid in the back seat isn't choking on his or her toys).

  • People do this already. To learn to drive a car, ride a bike, ski, or control any other type of vehicle, you go through a learning process where you commit the control procedures to muscle memory. Once you have that covered, you pretty much go where you want to go, without necessarily thinking 'ok, now I need to turn the steering wheel'.

    By and large, barring any significant equipment failure, you pretty much go towards whatever has your attention - for better or worse. Target fixation is alive and well in p

  • I feel really bad for the poor guy changing the flat tire, or getting the traffic ticket...but as a Darwinist it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
  • If your car's design requires a pair of "big external emergency buttons at the rear", there's definitely something wrong with your design.

  • What happens when you blink? Or sneeze?
  • Don't look now... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Neanderthal Ninny ( 1153369 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:56PM (#31962732)

    With most people that drive while texting or looking cellphone, the car should see that idiot is not looking at road and pull over to the side of the road safely so that the idiot knows that person is no looking at the road.

    • by pydev ( 1683904 )

      Trouble with that is that you can't pull over on many highways, to text or do anything else.

  • "You have chosen to look at an accident. Would you like to join the accident?"
  • This'll be great. (Score:3, Informative)

    Especially given how many people find it necessary to constantly make eye contact with their passengers when talking. Ah, well. At least it would cull the herd. It's too bad it'll take out so many innocents in the process though; surely there's a more efficient way.

    Alright, that aside... it looks like it won't be that sensitive after RTFA:

    "The car stops at intersections and asks the driver for guidance on which road to take," the researchers say. A few seconds of attention with the driver looking in his desired direction get the car flowing again.

    Heh. That'll be even better. Could you imagine stopping at every intersection... "Please indicate direction..." ... roll forward a block ... "please indicate direction..." ... roll forward...

  • Why would anyone take the time to design a device like this without having any understanding of what a normal driver does with their eyes in the course of operating a motor vehicle? Could the designer possibly be such a bad driver that they only look ahead where they are going? Why would anyone fund a design program run by someone that doesn't even know how to drive? That would be like hiring Sarah Palin to be president.
  • I've never understood this desire for eye controlled devices. With the exception of targeting a personal firearm, my eyes bounce around to so many objects so fast that I can barely type a sentence without getting completely distracted. If the cursor was controlled by my eyes while I was typing this paragraph would be nothing but a jumble of text, and half the letters would be strewn about my office.

    • An eye controlled firearm might make more sense. It sights where you look. And it could fire every time you blink. Now we are talking. If you blinked every time a weapon fired it would be fully automatic fire. It would make a great hunting weapon.
  • There's a lot of problems, but no one has mentioned drunk drivers yet. The problem with drunk drivers is that they'll fixate on something in front of them and follow it. That's why you have to pay attention at night if you are parked on the side of the road with your lights on. Drunk drivers will hone in on your lights and hit you. Seems like this eye-drive would only make that easier. Then again I guess a drunk driver is pretty deadly even without this.

    (Bonus points if you can tell me whether I'll get
  • Have the developers of this product never driven before?
    and never even bothered to read a book about recommended/required driving practices?

    It is impossible to drive while just looking at were you have to drive.
    you have to check gauges, mirrors, keep an eye all other traffic, etc.

    I suppose you could drive down the street with this and you might not get into an accident, but you would never be allowed to pass a drivers test.

    As far as I can tell this idea is fundamentally flawed and cannot ever possibly work.

  • OMG! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by PPH ( 736903 )
    Look at the tits on that ....Aieee! [Screech! Crash!]
  • 'The Spirit of Berlin' is also an autonomous car equipped with GPS navigation, scores of cameras, lasers and scanners that enable it to drive by itself. And should the technology-packed vehicle have a major bug, there's still an old fashioned way of stopping it. Two big external emergency buttons at the rear of the car allow people outside to shut down all systems.

    Else the Spirit of Berlin might start looking like the Spirit of Dresden fairly quickly... but if the thing ends up out of control, what the hell

  • Just don't look at the oncoming Traffic. This is a late April fools joke, me thinks !
  • Anyone ride a motorcycle? They always teach you to "look through your turns" because the bike tends to go where your head is aimed. Regularly accidents happen in which a bike swerves into another vehicle because the rider panics and looks where they don't want to go instead of where they do. Now we can bring this great feature to cars?

  • by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:26PM (#31964264) Homepage Journal
    What happens when a deer runs onto the shoulder of the road in front of you? Most people would probably look at the deer, not away from it.
  • by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @07:05AM (#31966058) Homepage Journal

    ... if you are riding down the road and see an object (such as a pothole or large stone or piece of exhaust pipe) that you wish to avoid, THE LAST THING YOU DO IS LOOK AT IT, because you do ride where you look.

    This is a lesson that bikers learn the hard way, you fall off and get hurt.

    Car drivers are different, so you will have car drivers who notice obstacles in the road as being more visually interesting than the blacktop itself, and promptly drive though / over / into all of them.

    "Rubbernecking" also means that every single accident suddenly becomes a gravitational black hole, and the possibility of any vehicle passing it without adding to it approaches zero.

    The steering wheel works perfectly well, just ask Michael Schumacher, if you are going to mess with that then go directly to fully automated, cut the human right out of the control system.

  • Squirrel! (Score:3, Funny)

    by MacColossus ( 932054 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:36PM (#31969208) Journal
  • A driver benefits just as much from the tactile feedback they receive from the steering wheel as they do from looking where they are going. Why in the world would anyone want to steer a car and not be able to feel the road?

    Evidently LOTS of people like to be removed from the driving equation given how many American cars are engineered to NOT give drivers any feedback (SUVs, large sedans like the Crown Victoria and its ilk, random crappy car with the sponge suspension and numb steering, etc.).

    • Indeed. I think most people would be happier if they could have self-driving cars. Americans neither want to wait for a bus/train, nor drive their own vehicle safely. Self driving cars are the only solution I can recommend.

  • by JumpDrive ( 1437895 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:34PM (#31970840)
    If I were Scarlett Johansen, I'd be afraid, very afraid.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court