The most nerve-wracking part of taking the road test for your driver’s license isn’t remembering to check your blind spots; it’s the instructor in the passenger seat silently judging you the entire time.
Such tests will soon be less stressful in India where Microsoft Research has developed an app that can administer a driving test by monitoring the driver’s performance with a smartphone.
The HAMS project (short for “Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety”) uses a smartphone mounted to the windshield of a vehicle that’s positioned so that its front-facing camera can see and monitor the driver, while its rear-facing camera can monitor the road ahead, as well as other vehicles and traffic.
The HAMS app also takes advantage of the myriad of sensors included in even the cheapest smartphones available today, including the accelerometer which can keep tabs on how nuanced a driver is with the gas and brake pedals, as well as GPS to monitor the vehicle’s speed throughout a test.
In its current form, the HAMS app is able to evaluate a driver’s performance (how safely they operate a vehicle, whether or not they’re adequately checking mirrors and blind spots) with the help of simple tracking markers set up around a closed testing course.
The markers are recognised by the smartphone’s camera and can be used to accurately gauge the location of the vehicle, and how close it comes to obstacles the driver should be avoiding.