Coming soon to a car dealership near you: vehicles that watch you while you drive.
GM's new driver assist technology, which will roll out next year, will include facial recognition that can detect whether a driver is falling asleep or not paying attention. According to Reuters, should the software notice the driver's gaze wandering, it will activate a series of alerts to bring the driver back to attention.
Known as Super Cruise, the system will start by flashing a red visual on the windshield if it catches a driver dozing off. If that doesn't work, the seat will vibrate, and next an audio message will play. Should none of the methods snap the driver back to attention, a human staffer will attempt to communicate with the driver by means of the car's OnStar system.
GM isn't the first to try to integrate facial recognition into its vehicles. Ford and Intel announced a joint venture to research the technology back in 2014, but their product is yet to reach the market.
Super Cruise will let drivers take their hands off the wheel for extended periods. If the road ahead has too many turns for the automated driving software to safely negotiate, it will alert the driver to take over. Failing to do so will result in the car turning on its hazard lights and slowing down to a stop.
So-called self-driving cars on the roads today generally require a human driver who needs to remain alert at all times. Uber's self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh, for example, keeps a driver behind the wheel in case the system should go awry. Earlier this year, the German government asked Tesla to stop calling its feature "Autopilot," since that can be misleading. Meanwhile, the company has said it will roll out fully autonomous technology sometime next year.
GM, the largest car maker in the U.S., originally announced its plans for Super Cruise back in 2014, and it's taken until now to get the technology ready for consumers. The company has not yet announced which models will feature the technology or its cost.