In line with the proposal of the revised EU regulation, Applus+ IDIADA has developed a novel test methodology to safely induce driver drowsiness while driving a real vehicle.
The European Commission published a new draft supplementing the existing (EU) 2019/2144 Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council setting out requirements concerning test procedures and technical requirements for the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to Driver Drowsiness and Attention Warning (DDAW).
DDAW is a system capable of detecting driver drowsiness based on the driving and/or steering patterns symptomatic of a driver exhibiting reduced alertness caused by a state of drowsiness. As soon as the system detects possible signs of fatigue, it warns the driver through the vehicle’s human-machine interface.
The regulation, which is expected to be revised and re-published by 2022, proposes a subjective evaluation based on a sleepiness reference scale to validate the DDAW systems’ accuracy. Applus+ IDIADA, anticipating the requirements of this future regulation, has designed and developed a new testing methodology to obtain valuable data through users’ subjective assessment of Driver Assist Technology equipped with DDAW systems.
New safety systems currently being developed are relying more and more on the interaction between the vehicle and the driver. As a result, we may expect subjective assessments to take a predominant role in the testing and validation of new devices in the years to come. According to James Jackson, Human Factors Coordinator at Applus+ IDIADA, “subjective user assessment is key in the development of driver assistance systems that must interact with the occupant. We can no longer think about the evolution of ADAS systems without considering the user component.”
The implementation of this methodology was initially challenging compared to other assessments carried out in the past, as the ADAS tests usually conducted at Applus+ IDIADA are not intended to induce fatigue or drowsiness situations for the driver, but rather the opposite.
In order to test our client’s DDAW system robustness, our specialists had to intentionally generate a state of monotony, boredom and tiredness for the driver while driving a real vehicle at moderate to high speed for a long period of time. Therefore, the driver’s health and safety were of paramount importance.
The drowsiness induction method was developed by Applus+ IDIADA’s ADAS department’s Human Factors team, in collaboration with the Homologation team, to combine all those elements which, according to accidentology studies, generate driver drowsiness, such as test duration, lack of stimuli in the environment and speed during the test. The safety protocol, on the other hand, was developed by specialists in test tracks and Occupational Health and Safety.
Tests were carried out in exclusive use on Applus+ IDIADA’s high-speed circuit and continuously monitored by an Applus+ IDIADA safety driver who, in addition to assessing the driver's drowsiness level every five minutes, had been trained to take control of the steering wheel and use the braking robot instrumented in the vehicle in the event of the driver losing control.
In the words of Andrés Aparicio, ADAS Senior Manager at Applus+ IDIADA, “we believe we have taken a step forward in developing a new testing methodology that will surely be useful and safe for the testing and validation of DDAW systems that may be equipped by many vehicles in the coming years.”
The project involved 35 tests, and in none of them was emergency intervention by the Safety Driver necessary. The degree of fatigue was measured through the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, being level 8 the target to be reached. In parallel, an engineering team observed and contrasted whether the inputs obtained by the drowsiness detection system coincided with the level of drowsiness expressed by each of the drivers.
Test results achieved an overall rate of 94% of drowsiness detection, a much higher degree of effectiveness than initially predicted.
With the development of this new functional methodology for subjective testing and our specialists’ expertise, Applus+ IDIADA is ready to provide support services to the automotive industry in the development of driving assistance systems in line with the future revision of (EU) 2019/2144 Regulation.