The NHTSA, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, introduced the world's first prototype vehicle equipped with advanced technology that can detect a drunk driver and stop operating a vehicle.
The DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) project has existed since 2008. Within its framework, a non-invasive system is being developed, the task of which is to detect the presence of "excess" alcohol in the driver's blood. In other words, the system should not only find alcohol, but also determine that its concentration exceeds the limits established by the rules.
Something similar already exists in the world. The legislation of 25 countries requires the presence of devices that block the start of the engine in drivers' cars, previously found to be in the habit of driving under the hop, if there are signs of alcohol intoxication.
Unlike existing devices, the new technology does not require additional actions from the driver. He will not need to blow into the tube, so that in search of alcohol the system investigated the "exhaust" of a potential intruder. Smart sensors will do everything themselves.
There are two sensors in DADSS. The first is somewhere on the front panel in the driver's exhalation zone and reacts to the presence of alcohol molecules in the exhaled air. In addition to the absence of a tube, it seems nothing new.
But the second sensor is tactile. A sensor located in the steering wheel calculates the blood alcohol content using near infrared spectroscopy. The action of the touch sensor is based on the property of alcohol to absorb light of a certain wavelength. Measuring the intensity of light, the system accurately determines the concentration of alcohol in the driver’s blood.
According to NHTSA admin Mark Rosekind, DASS is a powerful tool in the hands of vehicle owners that will help prevent drunk driving by large groups of people, such as teenagers and hired drivers. At the same time, NHTSA has no plans for the mandatory installation of alcohol blockers on all cars.
Despite the fact that the working prototype has already been submitted, the research project is still far from complete. It may take up to five years before commercial exploitation begins. Additional tests are needed to assess the accuracy and reliability of the system. Manufacturers want to make sure that it does not create unnecessary problems for sober drivers. Nevertheless, DADSS has already been highly appreciated by officials and public organizations.
The project is financed on the principles of public-private partnership. While the agreement with 15 automotive companies is valid until 2018, the money allocated by the administration in 2012 has already run out, and Congress is currently considering a bill to continue federal funding for research. Obviously, the presentation of the prototype and enthusiastic responses are timed to this event.
However, DADSS has both supporters and opponents. The American Institute of Beverages and the restaurant trade association are against. In their opinion, a system built on passive sensors of voluntary control will not remove conscious violators of the rules from the roads.