Pilot project tests artificial intelligence to detect distracted drivers

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Pilot project tests artificial intelligence to detect distracted drivers

According to Professor Karim El-Basyouny, there is a lack of data on the extent of the problem of distracted driving in Canada.

Researchers at the University of Alberta are testing artificial intelligence technology to determine the extent of the problem of distracted driving in Canada, and whether this technology can serve as a reliable detection system for authorities.


Pilot cameras are installed at various locations in Edmonton, Alberta for three weeks. They will then be installed in Montreal, Quebec, for a few weeks.

The aim of the research is to determine how well artificial intelligence is able to detect drivers who use their cell phones while behind the wheel, according to Professor Karim El-Basyouny of the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Studies from the University of Alberta.

[The intelligent system] will detect the presence of a cell phone through the windshield, explains the professor, who also sits on the committee of urban traffic safety for the City of Edmonton. If there is a phone detected and it moves, that's what the system is looking for.

The AI ​​would notably be able to differentiate a phone from a portfolio, according to the professor. The system would also be able to detect whether the phone is in the hands of the driver or not.

He is trained to understand and differentiate between different objects,” says Karim El-Basyouny. “The program is in two phases, the automatic algorithm then a manual intervention to ensure that the algorithm has indeed detected a traffic violation.

The technology is not new. She is already in service in the state of New South Wales, Australia. According to the company Acusensus, this technology detected more than 30,000 distracted drivers during the first three months of operation.

[The system] will be able to inspect more than 135 million vehicles per year by 2023, the Acusensus website reads. According to a study commissioned by the government of New South Wales, these cameras could prevent around 100 fatal and serious accidents over five years.

According to Karim El-Basyouny, the average of people who use their phone while driving is 7%. In Alberta, that average would be 5.3%, he said. However, he points out that these figures come solely from the tickets given by the police to offenders.

Currently, traffic violations for distracted driving are detected by police officers looking through car windshields for use of a phone, or while driving near a vehicle. /p>

It requires a lot of work, a lot of furtive glances, in difficult conditions, believes Karim El-Basyouny. This is the only viable solution currently and it is not ideal. […] The purpose [of this study] is to try to understand the real extent of the problem.

Alberta motorists can be fined $287 for being distracted while driving. steering wheel and three demerit points. But as part of this pilot project, no tickets will be given.

This pilot project is funded by the University of Alberta and the City of Alberta Police Service. 'Edmonton. The final report will be released in October 2023.

With information from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi

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