May 012010
 
General Motors Company
Image via Wikipedia

With just a half second’s notice,

a driver can swerve to avoid a fatal accident or slam on the brakes to miss hitting a child running after a ball. But first, the driver must perceive the danger.

Research shows that a rapid alert system can help mitigate the risks, fatalities and severe injuries from road accidents, says Prof. Shai Avidan of Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Engineering. He is currently collaborating with researchers from General Motors Research Israel to keep cars on the road and people out of hospitals.

An expert in image processing, Prof. Avidan and his team are working to develop advanced algorithms that will help cameras mounted on GM cars detect threats, alerting drivers to make split-second decisions. His research has been published in leading journals, including the IEEE Transaction on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence and featured at conferences in the field.

The challenge, says Prof. Avidan, is to develop a system that can recognize people, distinguishing them from other moving objects — and to create a model that can react almost instantaneously. Ultimately, he is hoping computer vision research will make cars smarter, and roads a lot safer.

An upgrade you can’t live without

Cars are not much different from one another. They all have engines, seats, and steering wheels. But new products are adding another dimension by making cars more intelligent. One such product is the smart camera system by MobilEye, an Israeli startup company. Prof. Avidan was part of the MobilEye technical team that developed a system to detect vehicles and track them in real-time.

He is now extending that research to develop the next generation of smart cameras — cameras that are aware of their surroundings. His goal is a camera capable of distinguishing pedestrians from other moving objects that can then warn the driver of an impending accident.

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