In brief: There have been plenty of justifiable privacy concerns over the use of facial recognition technology, but it’s hoped this latest use will help save lives. In Russia, tired taxi drivers will soon be forced to take breaks if the software detects they’re struggling to stay awake.
Bloomberg reports that the country’s largest taxi service, Yandex.Taxi, which merged with Uber Technologies last year, will start installing facial recognition tech via small devices mounted to vehicles’ windshields.
The software checks 68 facial points for signs of tiredness, such as blinking, yawning, and drivers’ heads slumping forwards. If it determines a driver is sleepy and therefore a danger, they will be blocked from accepting passengers on the app until they’ve had a break.
The decision comes as the number of road accidents involving taxis in Moscow jumped to 764 cases, which included 23 deaths, last year. That’s an increase from 541 in 2016 and 607 in 2017. Some officials place the blame on the long hours that drivers are working, with many taking jobs from multiple apps.
As noted by Engadget, some commercial vehicles also use facial recognition to identify tiredness in drivers, including the 2019 Subaru Forester and the Cadillac CT6 sedan, which tracks head positions using infrared light.
Yandex has already tested the technology in 100 of its cars and even showed it to president Vladimir Putin during an artificial intelligence meeting back in May. It plans to roll out the devices to several thousand of its cars soon.
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