Could a windshield device replace driving instructors?
A new artificial intelligence project from Microsoft aims to replace driving instructors during driving tests to ease the nerves of drivers.
Known as the HAMS project (Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety), it is essentially a smartphone mounted to the windshield with the front camera focused on the driver and the rear camera focused on the road ahead and any driving obstacles to keep track of how the driving is doing.
“The goal is to monitor the state of the driver and how the vehicle is being driven in the context of a road environment that the vehicle is in. We believe that effective monitoring leading to actionable feedback is key to promoting road safety,” Microsoft said in its announcement of the project.
Instead of having a driving instructor seat in the passenger seat critiquing your every move, HAMS uses multiple sensors using features that the smartphone already has like a camera and an accelerometer at the same time. In this way, the phone can detect things like sharp braking, vehicle-to-vehicle distance, and driver distraction.
Microsoft said that the technology could benefit both driving instructors and drivers. HAMS would take the burden off of driving instructors to have to sit through and evaluate a new driver learning the ropes, and it would ease the nerves of a new driver having an instructor watch their every move.
So far, HAMS has only been tested for driver training purposes in India. It’s also been explored as a type of fleet management dashboard, where a supervisor could track the cause of safety-related incidents and manage their drivers.
Digital Trends reached out to Microsoft to find out if/when the project plans to test in the United States and what Microsoft hopes to accomplish with the project in the U.S. in the future, and we’ll update this story once we hear back.
Car camera technology like that found in HAMS is becoming more and more advanced. There are cameras that eliminate blind spots, cameras that start recording at the detection of an impact, cameras that offer voice-activation functions, and even cameras that double as lane departure warning systems.