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After a Tesla driver was killed when his model S crashed while on autopilot last year, car makers trying to gain an edge with partial autonomous driving technology, have had to contend with a paradoxical problem. How to keep drivers alert at the wheel when the car is piloting itself.
Reuters transportation correspondent David Shepardson explains.>> In the wake of the Tesla autopilot crash last May, auto companies are taking new steps to ensure that drivers pay attention and they don't get lulled into a false sense of security. And so, the biggest example of that is General Motors delayed its introduction of a system called Super Cruise, which takes over driving on the highway in certain points until they were sure that the system was foolproof.
For example Tesla, they use monitors in the steering wheel, they watch or they look at how many times they touch the steering wheel. Use the turn signal to determine if you're paying attention. GM is using a camera pointed at your eyes to ensure that you're actually looking in the direction of the road.
>> Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes Benz have all taken similar measures to improve safety in cars that automate some driving tasks. Including facial recognition and sensors that detect drowsy drivers and can alert them with sounds, lights or vibrations in the driver's seat. But there's a big debate in the industry between the more traditional car makers and companies dead set on removing drivers from the equation.
>> Companies like Google's Waymo unit say the real problem is the driver. We've got to get the human driver out of the seat completely. We've got to get to full automation as fast as possible because that human driver is still gonna fall asleep, still gonna drink and drive behind the wheel.
Still gonna be paying attention to the kids in the back. And so those companies say let's not mess around with these interim steps. Let's focus on full automation.>> In September Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced new restrictions for its auto pilot. Like if the driver ignores three audible warnings in an hour, the system temporarily shuts down until the car is parked.
But some players in the game like Waymo say those kind of restrictions also bring advancement in self driving technology to a controlled stop.