OMRON Develops World-First Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor That Judges Driver's Ability to Focus on Vehicle Operation for Further Growth of Safe Autonomous Driving

OMRON is conducting demonstration tests to collect a wide variety of data on drivers while at the wheel, equipping a broad range of vehicles -- including privately owned family cars -- with the company's newly developed Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor and biosensors for measuring heart electrical activity and pulse waves.

KYOTO, Japan, Oct. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- OMRON Corporation has announced the development of a world first with its Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor. OMRON's latest offering is equipped with technology that uses three barometers to judge whether the driver is capable of focusing on driving responsibilities: (1) whether the driver is observing the vehicle's operation (Eyes ON/OFF); (2) how quickly the driver will be able to resume driving (Readiness High/Mid/Low); and (3) whether the driver is behind the wheel (Seating ON/OFF). Additionally, further advancement has been made in the company's facial image-sensing technology, OKAO Vision, which now makes it possible to sense the state of the driver even if wearing a mask or sunglasses -- something that had previously not been possible.


Recent years have seen progression made in legislation surrounding autonomous driving, and active discussions are now under way toward making amendments to UN R79, the international standard pertaining to automated steering (*1). OMRON developed its Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor upon looking at the needs and legislative trends surrounding autonomous driving, deeming it necessary that high practical functionality is a necessity for judging whether or not the driver is concentrating on driving. OMRON's new sensor represents further advancement in the onboard sensor with "driver concentration-sensing technology" (*2) that the company announced in June last year.

OMRON is conducting demonstration tests to collect a wide variety of data on drivers while at the wheel, equipping a broad range of vehicles -- including privately owned family cars -- with the company's newly developed Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor and biosensors for measuring heart electrical activity and pulse waves. This demonstration testing has been under way since fiscal 2017 and is being carried out in collaboration with Nagoya University's Institutes of Innovation for Future Society and the HMHS Consortium (*3). Through this effort, the group is looking to utilize the collected data for further technological development.

By continually elevating its technologies and engaging in demonstration tests, OMRON aims to get its Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor adopted for use in automobiles to be launched ahead of 2020. Looking ahead to the changes that will continue to encircle autonomous driving, OMRON will work toward bringing about a safe and secure car society by pushing forward technology that better understands the driver.

(Reference: Technological advancements in the Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor
https://prw.kyodonews.jp/prwfile/release/M102197/201710056517/_prw_PA1fl_QsiOf7q9.pdf)

Primary features of OMRON's technological advancements

1. Simultaneous judgment of three barometers concerning the driver's condition
Technology to date has allowed for judging only one factor: whether the driver is in a condition suitable for safe driving. But now by making advancements in time-series deep learning technology, OMRON has made it possible to simultaneously judge three barometers to determine whether the driver's circumstances allow him/her to focus on driving.

(1) Is the driver observing the vehicle's operation? (Eyes ON/OFF)

The Eyes ON/OFF function makes a binary judgment based on the manner in which the driver's eyes are opening and closing and the direction of the eyes to determine whether he/she is focused (ON/OFF) on the direction of the car and its periphery.

(2) How quickly will the driver be able to resume driving? (Readiness High/Mid/Low)

The Readiness High/Mid/Low function makes a ternary judgment as to the driver's capacity to resume driving based on what the driver is doing, determining whether he/she is ready to drive immediately (High), able to resume driving momentarily (Mid) or will require some time before resuming driving (Low).

(3) Is the driver in the driver's seat? (Seating ON/OFF)

The Seating ON/OFF function makes a binary judgment based on whether the driver is behind the wheel (ON/OFF).

2. Enhanced recognition accuracy for ascertaining finer details in facial information

Having been working on its OKAO Vision facial image-sensing technology for over 20 years now, OMRON has made further advancement in this by applying time-series deep learning technology to ascertain finer details in facial information. The company has significantly improved recognition accuracy, making it now possible to judge the manner in which the driver's eyes are opening and closing, his/her line of sight and the direction of his/her face -- even if wearing a mask or sunglasses.

3. Expanded database for handling a wider range of actions and conditions of the driver

By incorporating real-world driving data that cover the issues at hand during vehicle operation and expanding its database, OMRON has accumulated a wealth of information on drivers' various motions and conditions when behind the wheel and enabled the use of this in the company's technology.

Exhibition details

OMRON held demonstrations of its Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor from October 3 to October 6 at CEATEC JAPAN 2017 held at the Makuhari Messe exhibition hall, Chiba city, Japan. Through use of a cockpit demonstration, visitors were able to experience state-of-the-art technology that can read a wide variety of driver conditions.

(Image: Cockpit demonstration of the Onboard Driver Monitoring Sensor
http://prw.kyodonews.jp/img/201710056517-O1-mc3Kz38S)

(*1) International Standard UN R79

Uniform provisions concerning steering equipment

(*2) Driver concentration-sensing technology

Combines OMRON's proprietary image-sensing technology with time-series deep learning technology to sense the driver's various motions and conditions and thereby determine if he/she is in a condition suitable for safe driving.

(*3) HMHS Consortium

Human Machine Harmonization System Consortium

About OMRON Corporation

OMRON Corporation is a global leader in the field of automation based on its core technology of "Sensing & Control + Think." Established in 1933, OMRON has about 36,000 employees worldwide, working to provide products and services in 117 countries. The company's business fields cover a broad spectrum, ranging from industrial automation and electronic components to automotive electronics, social infrastructure systems, healthcare, and environmental solutions. In the field of industrial automation, OMRON supports manufacturing innovation by providing advanced automation technology and products, as well as through extensive customer support, in order to help create a better society.

For more information, visit OMRON's website: http://www.omron.com/.

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