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Electronic 'Driver Advocate' Keeps Focus on Road in DaimlerChrysler Concept Vehicle

June 16, 2003

DaimlerChrysler demonstrated an onboardelectronics system designed to keep the driver’s focus on the road duringcritical driving situations.The system, called Driver Advocate™, was developed by Motorola andinstalled in a Chrysler Town & Country minivan. According to the company, Driver Advocateincorporates a user-friendly three-button mechanism installed on thesteering wheel to enable the driver to control the in-flow of informationfrom cell phones, onboard navigation systems, and warning messages ordiagnostic messages appearing on the EVIC. The Driver Advocate system isexpandable to incorporate future telematics applications. "This new project demonstrates the benefits of our extended enterprisehere at Chrysler Group. With our technology partners at Motorola, we aredemonstrating an innovative system that addresses the important issue ofdriver distraction,” said Bernard I. Robertson, senior vice president,Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs.DaimlerChrysler and Motorola previously collaborated on the Chrysler 300MIT-Edition, also involving researchers and graduate students at theMassachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab in Cambridge,Massachusetts. That vehicle served as a mobile research lab for thedevelopment of electronic systems to assess and address driver distractionand stress."As part of its commitment to provide technologial solutions to the problemof distracted driving and make our highways safer, Motorola is developing alow-cost, easy-to-use system for the automotive industry," said JacquiDedo, vice president of market operations for Motorola Automotive. "This isthe first public demonstration of Driver Advocate, and Motorola andDaimlerChrysler have worked together to further explore how technology canbe applied to manage the flow of information in the car. Motorola iscommitted to working with its customers to make the car more intuitive andto simplify the overall driving experience."According to the company, Driver Advocate is designed to work in the demanding automotiveenvironment: It utilizes much of the existing hardware and vehicledynamics information already available in the vehicle to keep costs down;it is simple to understand and operate; and it is designed to be durable,reliable and efficient.The company says the system adds a simple steering angle sensor and several grip sensors inthe steering wheel to determine driver hand/knee position, similar to thesystem implemented in the 300M IT-Edition. Information about the driver’sstress and attention levels - measured by driver actions and vehicle motioninformation - is processed in the system workload management center todetermine whether messages should be displayed to the driver or whethernon-safety-critical information should be temporarily intercepted while thedriver focuses on traffic and road conditions.Drivers access the system through a three-button interface on thesteering wheel and the minivan’s overhead Electronic Vehicle InformationCenter (EVIC) console. There is one button for each managed system:incoming cell phone calls, navigation system and vehicle diagnosticinformation normally displayed on the EVIC.Each switch can be illuminated to let the driver know a message has beensuppressed. The driver must then press the switch, when they feel the timeis appropriate, to display the suppressed information.If the computer determines the situation does not warrant messagesuppression, the information is displayed normally. The driver determinesthe appropriate time to display messages. For example, drivers may chooseto suppress the navigation system until reaching unfamiliar parts of aroute.“People are spending more time in their automobiles at the same time thatelectronics is expanding the amount of information we can make available tothe driver and passengers. The system we’ve installed in our Chryslerminivan provides a simple, straightforward answer to managing the amount ofinformation flowing to the driver at critical times,” said Thomas S. Moore,vice president and head of DaimlerChrysler’s Liberty & Technical Affairsadvanced research group.According to the company, ongoing research with the Driver Advocate system installed in the Town &Country minivan will continue to refine the system’s ability to identifyconditions in which information should be temporarily intercepted, focusingon the most common traffic situations that require intervention. “We will continue to work with Motorola to fine-tune the system toidentify those driving situations where the Driver Advocate is most useful.That will involve both on-road work in our minivan and simulator work,combining the strengths of both companies,” said Stephen J. Buckley,manager of electrical product innovation at DaimlerChrysler's Liberty &Technical Affairs research group.
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