SEAT is experimenting with technology that studies a driver’s eyes and head movement to detect if they’re falling asleep, as part of its Xplora innovation hub initiative and ongoing partnerships with Israeli start ups.
The manufacturer has partnered with Eyesight Technologies, which uses advanced computer vision and artificial intelligence to improve road safety.
The firm, based in Tel Aviv, has developed an algorithm which analyses the eye openness, angle of vision, blink rate and head position of the driver, along with other visual attributes.
In the event it detects that the driver is drowsy, asleep or perhaps distracted by their mobile phone, it will trigger an alert.
The technology can also identify the driver from previous trips and adjust the seats, mirrors, heating settings and other cabin features according to their personal preferences.
SEAT says that eventually the software will be able to detect pedestrians and analyse whether the driver has spotted them as well.
Stefan Ilijevic, the Head of Product Innovation at SEAT, said: “In total more than 90 per cent of the road accidents in Europe are caused by human factor.
“The main reasons include distraction and tiredness, excessive speed and alcohol and drugs.
“At SEAT we are working on solutions to prevent negligence behind the steering wheel and significantly reduce road accidents.
“We partner with some of the world’s brightest companies on important technology to save lives, since our long-term vision is a world with zero accidents.”
Eyesight Technologies is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the Mediterranean city a hotspot for tech companies – boasting 6,600 startups, 800 of which are dedicated to the car industry.
Another firm working with SEAT is Gauzy, which has developed an active glazing technology that adapts to the weather conditions.
SEAT say it could give the driver the ability to darken windows, within legal limits, to avoid being dazzled by the sun, and lighten the windows in darker environments and weather conditions.
Gauzy was started in the kitchen of one of its founders, who was looking for a way to make windows more private.
In fact, it seems Israel is a bit of a hot spot for automotive innovation – there are currently 6,600 startups in Israel, 800 of which are dedicated to the automotive industry.
SEAT launched Xplora with Champion Motors, which is the Volkswagen Group’s brand importer in Israel, and in two years has worked with more than 200 emerging Israeli businesses.
Their team is responsible for finding solutions that enhance well-being and safety, cybersecurity, sustainability and artificial intelligence.
The aim is to carry out at least 10 proofs of concept every year to test how selected innovations would adapt in vehicles and services.
Aitor Aizkorreta, the Head of Scouting for SEAT in Israel, said: “This concentration of emerging companies makes Tel Aviv one of the easiest global innovation hubs to explore for solutions that improve our cars and services.”
Ilijevic added: “If you want to be a leader of the disruption in the car industry instead of a spectator, then not only do you have to be in Tel Aviv, but in the world’s other major technology hubs as well.
“If we want to shape the future, we have to be in the most innovative ecosystems.
“It not only enables you to be the first and apply new technologies, but you can also attract the best talent, as they want to work in companies that are spearheading change.”