How DMS is Creating the Future of Mobility — Giving Drivers a Taste of "Omotenashi"

10th January, 2020

When we talk about innovations in mobility, the discussion tends to focus on concepts like autonomous vehicles and Advanced Driver-Assistance System (ADAS). But did you know about the pivotal role played by the Driver Monitoring System (DMS)? It’s an in-car companion that keeps a constant eye on the driver’s alertness, and will soon be able to judge emotional and physical condition as well. With DMS set to become a legal requirement in the EU, we look at the present and future of a technology rooted in the Japanese concept of "omotenashi."

From Monitoring Outside to Monitoring Inside the Car

At the Tokyo Motor Show 2019, Mitsubishi Electric introduced its concept of "Mobility for Better Days": harnessing new technology in everything from cars to social infrastructure in order to transform people’s lives. The keywords here are "Autonomous" and "Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS)" — the catch-all term for automatic driving. But in order to avoid risks and prevent accidents in autonomous driving, a safe and comfortable "next-generation cockpit system" design is needed. It isn’t enough to monitor what’s happening outside the vehicle, including not only the proximity of other vehicles but also its en route surroundings. Technology that enables close communication between the driver and car is also essential.

That’s where the Driver Monitoring System (DMS) comes in. It detects whether the driver is drowsy or distracted — and it already looks set to become an industry standard. The European Union adopted regulation that all motor vehicles will have to be equipped with such technology from 2022.Because in autonomous driving, it’s important to look inside the car as well as outside.

Communication Between Cars and People Has Already Begun

Mitsubishi Electric has spent years developing advanced image processing and recognition technology for monitoring stores, banks, factories and elevators, and DMS harnesses this know-how.

A high-precision camera on the side of the center display measures the percentage of eye closure, blink frequency, and the direction and movement of the driver’s eyes. If something seems to be wrong, the driver is notified with sounds and visual alerts. Thanks to improvements in camera precision, and more sophisticated image processing and recognition technology, DMS is able to deliver ever more accurate results.

Facial recognition technology can also help make the driving experience more comfortable, such as by automatically adjusting the seat position and side mirrors. By paying close attention to the driver, DMS embodies the Japanese tradition of hospitality, known as "omotenashi." It is already being embraced by multiple auto manufacturers around the world, giving rise to a "next-generation cockpit system" based on a new form of communication between cars and people.

Science Fiction, Made Fact

How will DMS be used in the future? Mitsubishi Electric offers a glimpse with its "EMIRAI S" concept cabin, displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show 2019.

"EMIRAI S" incorporates the latest biological-sensing technology to support safe and secure transportation. It remotely measures heart rate and body surface temperature, and uses a near-infrared camera to detect drowsiness. It offers a taste of what’s to come, as Mitsubishi Electric uses the wide-angle DMS camera to analyze the driver’s physical condition in even greater detail.

Car: "You look tired. Do you want to take a break?"
Driver: "Yes, you’re right. I’m going to have a rest."

Such casual conversations between cars and drivers may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they will soon be normal. By building a close relationship between people and cars, using "omotenashi" technology and DMS, Mitsubishi Electric is changing mobility for the better.

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