Companies like Tesla and Google have their eyes on self-driving cars. But while humans are still behind the wheel, General Motors is turning to eye-tracking, facial recognition tech to make the streets a bit safer.
The Financial Times reports GM is planning to install machines in about half a million cars that will track drivers' eye and head movements to cut down on distracted and tired driving. GM would be the first automobile maker to include this type of tech on a wide scale.
The tracking devices GM would be using are made by an Australian company called Seeing Machines. In a release today, Seeing Machines announced a partnership with Takata, a Japanese auto safety company, noting "Takata has recently secured a contract to deliver its first ever mass-manufactured implementation of a drive-monitoring system."
Last year, Seeing Machines signed a deal with construction vehicle manufacturer Caterpillar to install systems in 40,000 of the company's mining trucks that sense when drivers aren't looking at the road or are falling asleep at the wheel and alert them with an alarm and a vibrating seat.
The move comes at a time when both GM and Takata have faced a good deal of scrutiny. Last week, Honda recalled 63,200 cars due to defective Takata air bag inflators, following similiar recalls from Toyota, BMW and GM. GM CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress this summer in hearings about the company's delayed recall of cars with a faulty ignition switch.
The emphasis on driver safety makes sense, but Seeing Machine's investment in sensing technology that can monitor a driver's vital signs will no doubt raise concerns about privacy.
Seeing Machines and General Motors did not respond to a request for comment.