An autonomous and empathetic car: they create a system that understands the emotions of the driver

An autonomous vehicle that understands the driver and knows if he feels fear, anger, satisfaction, boredom, anguish, anger or joy, and also how his level of concentration, attention or stress is.

An autonomous and empathetic car: they create a system that understands the emotions of the driver

An autonomous vehicle that understands the driver and knows if he feels fear, anger, satisfaction, boredom, anguish, anger or joy, and also how his level of concentration, attention or stress is.

The Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV) is working on this with the SUaaVE project -'Supporting acceptance of automated Vehicle'-, financed by the European program 'Horizon 2020', to «humanize the actions of the autonomous car and improve the travel experience with a novel system capable of estimating in real time the mental state, both cognitive and emotional, of travellers».

“One way to improve the user experience is the development of empathic vehicles that understand how the passenger feels, with high levels of automation and capable of responding to those feelings taking into account the environment and the context.

This project will allow adapting, for example, the driving mode of autonomous vehicles to adapt to the needs of the user, which increases confidence in these cars and, therefore, their acceptance and success in the market", says the director of innovation in Automotive and Mobility of the IBV, José Solaz.

And it is that, as Solaz explains, until now, research into autonomous vehicles has focused mainly on technical solutions without considering “intangible” aspects, such as the perception of safety, which could be detrimental to the acceptance of this technology.

To solve this lack, these works have combined classical statistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to design a model focused on people that allows the vehicle to manage corrective actions to improve the journey of its occupants.

For the development of this new technology, tests have been carried out in the HAV, a dynamic and highly immersive driving simulator of the IBV, in which the participants lived the experience of traveling in autonomous mode in different scenarios, designed to provoke the most representative emotions. that passengers can feel and, in this way, be able to analyze their physiological signals.

Driving simulators allow researchers, in the words of José Solaz, "to simulate real-world driving situations that would be too risky or complicated to reliably recreate on the road or on a test track and, above all, very difficult to assume at cost level. "We have been able to monitor behavioral aspects such as facial expression and physiological changes such as respiratory rate, heart rate and sweating," says the specialist in a statement.

In this first phase, a total of 50 volunteers participated in the experience of going in an empathic autonomous car. The sample was composed of drivers aged between 25 and 55 years, and with a balanced distribution of women and men. Future lines of research will focus on optimizing the model through its training to obtain high levels of accuracy not only from experiences in the simulator but also by monitoring drivers and passengers in real driving conditions.

IBV leads this project in which it collaborates with the Spanish companies Idiada Automotive Technology and Idneo Technologies; the FIAT Ricerche Center in Italy; the University of Groningen in the Netherlands; the Fondation Partenarial Mov'eotec - Vedecom, the Université Gustave Eiffel, the Institut Polytechnique de Bordeaux and ESI Group in France; and the Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Germany.


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