GM's eye tracking technology, which they plan to put in the front cabin of this new model, is a first for driver-assistance cars. Although Volvo and Tesla Motors have introduced self-driving systems in some of their vehicles, GM will be the first to release a car capable of monitoring a driver's eyes with cameras.
All automakers are keenly aware of the high priority they need to give safety when designing new self-driving cars. The fatal accident of a careless driver testing a Tesla car on Autopilot has yet to be fully purged from many drivers' minds. That noteworthy accident, which happened in May of 2015, served as a stark reminder that driver-assistance cars are still far from perfection.
The first line of defense for a malfunctioning self-driving car is always a quick response from the driver. The only way the GM team believes that they can keep their drivers alert and ready to take the wheel at any moment is to keep track of their eyeballs.
This new Cadillac, called the Super Cruise, will be equipped with software that is able to tell if a driver is fatigued or not. If the device detects the driver's eyelids are sagging, it will produce both audible and visual alerts to test the driver's responsiveness. If these do not work, the car will automatically dial an OnStar representative. If the driver does not respond to the OnStar representative, then the car will pull itself over to the side of the road.
The staff at GM think that this eye-tracking feature will prevent a great deal of avoidable accidents. The current technologies for tracking driver's attentiveness, such as checking whether or not a person's hands are on the steering wheel, are simply not up to GM's standards. GM feels that eye-scanning is the safest option for the self-driving cars of today.
Some groups that are concerned about the privacy issues these cameras bring up. While GM officials say they only release personal data with the owner's consent, some groups believe all the data GM gathers should be immediately deleted after use. Critics claim that automakers might be able to send this eye-tracking data to insurance companies or public safety authorities without a driver's knowledge or consent.
Although there are privacy concerns, it seems that all automakers will soon be incorporating more intrusive technology into their models as self-driving cars become more common. It isn't only GM that is leading the way in eye-tracking technology. Audi, a luxury division of Volkswagen, is set to release a self-driving car with eye-tracking technology in the future as well. If one thing is certain, whether they like it or not, consumers will see more eye-tracking cars in the years to come.