Vision of the future: how drivers will steer by sight
Published 28/04/2010 | 05:00
GERMAN researchers have developed new technology that lets drivers steer cars using only their eyes.
In an extraordinary development, the technology tracks a driver's eye movement and, in turn, steers the car in whatever direction he or she is looking.
Raul Rojas -- an artificial-intelligence researcher at Berlin's Free University -- and his team presented the prototype at the abandoned Tempelhof Airport in the German capital.
The Dodge Caravan crisscrossed the tarmac, its driver using his line of sight to control the car. The car's steering wheel was turning as if guided by ghostly hands.
The technology, called eyeDriver, lets the car drive up to 50kmh.
"The next step will be to get it to drive 96kmh," Mr Rojas said.
Ultimately, the researcher is aiming for even more: "The biggest challenge, of course, is to drive in a city with pedestrians and lots of obstacles."
For now, exercises remain relatively simple. The Dodge chases a pedestrian or another car across the tarmac and even drives backwards -- the driver has to look into the rear mirror to guide the car.
However, it remains unclear when -- or if -- the technology will be commercialised, as questions about safety and practicability abound.
But the researchers have an answer for that: it is also an autonomous car equipped with GPS navigation, scores of cameras, lasers and scanners that enable it to drive by itself.
"The car can do everything. It can drive autonomously or it can be guided by a driver's eyes," Mr Rojas said.
While the prospect of such a car making it to production is some way off, there are areas that could be of immense use to people with disabilities and could be incorporated in production cars within a relatively short period of time.