A team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have said that irritated drivers tend to be more aggressive and less attentive. They are working on a concept to embed facial recognition technology into steering wheels, detecting when the driver is upset or angry.
The researchers have said that so far tests have shown that the system is showing a good amount of accuracy and hope that by assessing the emotional state of a driver, safety on the roads will be improved.
The system works because it has “learned” to identify two emotions on the face of the test subjects; anger and disgust. The camera was tested in a car provided by Peugeot Citroën, as well as in an office environment.
The main challenge that the team faces is making sure that the emotion detection is reliable, given that human reactions and expressions can vary a great deal from person to person.
Hugh Bladon from the Association of British Drivers has made his feelings on the concept crystal clear.
“I don’t like the idea at all,” he said. “I’m all for something which stops someone who’s drunk or on drugs getting in and driving but to try and test someone’s emotional state… if they’ve had a row with their wife or they’ve had a bad report about something… that’s too far. It’s an intrusion.”
The Swiss researchers think the technology could also be used to detect driver fatigue by assessing the eyelids and determining what percentage they are closed. However the technology is still a long off from being ready.