Car that lets your eyes do the driving

Jrgen Bätz,Ap
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:06

Tired of turning that steering wheel? Try this: German researchers have developed new technology that lets drivers steer cars using only their eyes.

Raul Rojas, an artificial intelligence researcher at Berlin's Free University, said that the technology tracks a driver's eye movement and, in turn, steers the car in whatever direction he or she is looking.

Mr Rojas and his team presented the prototype yesterday at the abandoned Tempelhof Airport in the German capital.

The Dodge Caravan crisscrossed the tarmac, its driver using his line of sight to control the car. The car's steering wheel was turning as if guided by ghostly hands.

The technology, called eyeDriver, lets the car drive up to 31 mph. "The next step will be to get it to drive 60 miles per hour," Mr Rojas said. Ultimately, however, the researcher is aiming for even more: "The biggest challenge is of course to drive in a city with pedestrians and lots of obstacles."

For now, exercises remain relatively simple. The Dodge chases a pedestrian or another car across the tarmac and even drives backwards – the driver has to look into the rear mirror to guide the car.

However, it remains unclear when – or if – the technology will be commercialised, as questions about safety and practicability abound: what about looking next to the road for a few seconds? Not to mention taking phone calls or typing a text while driving.

But the researchers have an answer: it is also an autonomous car equipped with GPS navigation, scores of cameras, lasers and scanners that enable it to drive by itself. "The car can do everything. It can drive autonomously or it can be guided by a driver's eyes," Mr Rojas said.

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