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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Method and Device for Determining a Suitability of a Route", for Approval

August 7, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Vogel, Andreas (Hildesheim, DE), filed on May 14, 2012, was made available online on July 24, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The fatigue of the driver may be observed by various methods. The current state of fatigue is able to be displayed to the driver. If it is detected that the driver is too tired, it is then pointed out that a rest would be in order. Rest stops or hotels may also be searched for. These methods only ascertain the present fatigue, and, as attentiveness drops off, they may suggest taking a rest, for example.

"German Patent Application No. DE 10 255 544 A1 describes a motor vehicle assistance system having a fatigue prediction device for the prediction of a state of fatigue of a driver of a motor vehicle."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present invention provides an example method for determining the suitability of a route including a plurality of sections for traveling on by a driver of a vehicle, a corresponding device which executes this method, and finally a corresponding computer program product.

"The present invention is based on the realization that considerable advantages accrue if, during a qualification of a suitable route, it is able to be taken into account that a driver becomes increasingly fatigued with increasing travel time. In the form of a fatigue weighting, this may have an effect on the route planning in a navigation device, or the like, for example. The fatigue weighting, in this instance, is ascertainable as a function of a fatigue prediction value, which gives the fatigue of a driver to be expected, and a maximum fatigue value. Every specific traffic situation, such as a certain kind of road or a crossing may have a maximum fatigue value assigned to it. The route may now be selected in such a way, for example, that the driver is never more fatigued on the respective route section than the respective traffic situation would require. In other words, a route may be valued as being favorable, for instance, if the fatigue prediction value is less than the maximum fatigue value, i.e., the fatigue of the driver that is to be expected is less than a maximum fatigue recommended for a certain traffic situation.

"An advantage of the present invention is that, because of taking into account the fatigue of the driver as an additional parameter during route planning, the travel safety is able to be improved. For this reason, the presence of the attentiveness and concentration of the driver reduced by fatigue is able to be avoided in demanding traffic situations that are detectable ahead of time. In addition, devices already present in a vehicle and methods for route planning and fatigue detection may be used, these being broadened, supplemented and/or combined otherwise and used. A route planning adapted to fatigue according to types of embodiment of the present invention is consequently connected with only minimal or no additional hardware expenditure. The advantages of the present invention come about from dealing, in the preliminary stages, with fatigue of the driver that is certain to appear, and organizing a route corresponding to the fatigue development. Thus, the route may be organized more simply the more fatigued the driver is.

"The present invention provides an example method and an example device for determining a suitability of a route including a plurality of sections for traveling on by a driver of a vehicle, the example method having the following steps:

"determining a fatigue prediction value, which predicts the fatigue of a driver of the vehicle for at least one section of the route;

"carrying out a comparison of the fatigue prediction value using a maximum fatigue value assigned to the at least one section of the route; and

"weighting the route using a fatigue weighting depending on the comparison, so as to determine the suitability of the route for traveling on by the driver.

"By a vehicle, one may understand, in this case, a motor vehicle, particularly a road vehicle, such as a passenger car or a truck. A suitable system, such as a navigation system, a driver assistance system or another information system in the vehicle, with the aid of position finding and stored geographical data, enables navigating to a chosen location via a route, while observing desired criteria and requirements. The route may be composed of a number of sections. In the case of an individual section of a route, a route section of a certain length may be involved, a crossing, a road section within or outside of a closed community or the like being able to represent a section of a route. The fatigue prediction value may be determined by a suitable process for fatigue estimation. Thus, for example, the failure of steering motions to appear and a subsequent sudden correction point to fatigue. Using suitable monitoring devices, such as inside cameras, for example, one may estimate the current fatigue of the driver. The fatigue prediction value may vary from section to section, over the course of the road. A maximum fatigue value applies in each case for one section of the route, and gives a recommended upper limit of the fatigue of a driver for this section. From the comparison of the fatigue prediction value for the at least one section of the route with the maximum fatigue value valid for this section, the fatigue weighting comes about. The fatigue weighting may be a value or a factor which scales a suitability of the route for traveling on by the driver, particularly with respect to possible fatigue risks. The fatigue weighting offset with the route data may have the effect that the suitability of the route is neutral, increased or reduced. If, for example, the fatigue prediction value is greater than the maximum fatigue value, the weighting applies in such a way that the suitability is reduced. Steps of the method may be carried out by using a mathematical and/or logical linkage of data, based, for instance, on basic arithmetical operations, using a look-up table, using a statistical evaluation, or the like.

"In the determining step, at least one additional fatigue prediction value may also be determined, which predicts a fatigue of the driver of the vehicle for at least one section of at least one further route, and in the step of carrying out the comparison of the at least one additional fatigue prediction value with the at least one additional maximum fatigue value assigned to the at least one section of the at least one additional route, and in the weighting step, the at least one additional route may be weighted with at least one additional fatigue weighting depending upon the comparison, in order to determine the suitability of the at least one further route for traveling on by the driver. This offers the advantage of a possible choice between a plurality of routes, whose suitability is certain and thus known. This may also turn out favorable, for example, if, based on usually used other optimization parameters or evaluation or selection criteria specified by the driver, no clearly most suitable route is found, or one or more alternative routes executed, to an original route are to be offered. This raises the flexibility of the route planning.

"According to one specific embodiment, a selecting step may be provided of one of the routes as being suitable for traveling on by the driver, as a function of the fatigue weightings. In this case, from a plurality of routes whose suitability has been determined, a route is selected having a desired suitability. The desired suitability may be the best suitability or a suitability that is in harmony with other optimization parameters or evaluation criteria or selection criteria that are usually used and specified by a driver. The route selected may be output to the driver via a suitable output device, such as a display and/or a loudspeaker. Such a specific embodiment has the advantage that a favorable route corresponding to the predicted fatigue is able to be selected. Consequently, a reliable route selection may be made and danger conditioned upon fatigue may be avoided.

"In the determining step, the fatigue prediction value may also be determined as a function of the time characteristic of the route. The time characteristic may include an expected time duration of the route, rests possibly provided and/or having taken place, a sequence in time of sections of the route and/or the like. The fatigue prediction value may be determined before travel of the route. The fatigue prediction value may also be determined repeatedly during the travel of the route. Repeated determination of the fatigue prediction value during travel of the route may have the effect of adjusting the fatigue prediction value. Thus, the fatigue prediction value may be lowered if, for example, the expected time duration of the route is abbreviated, a rest stop is inserted, or various sections of the route succeed one another at short distances in time. Such a specific embodiment has the advantage that an individual, accurate and current fatigue prediction value is able to be provided for the comparison with the maximum fatigue value.

"According to one specific embodiment, a step of ascertaining the maximum fatigue value for the at least one section of the route may be provided.

"This has the advantage that a maximum fatigue value ascertained individually for the section is able to be provided for the comparison with the fatigue prediction value.

"As a result, the ascertained maximum fatigue value may be coordinated better with the section of the route, whereby the accuracy of determination of the suitability of the route is increased.

"In this context, a determining step a traffic situation assigned to the section may be provided, and in the ascertaining step, a predetermined value assigned to the traffic situation being selected as the maximum fatigue value. The traffic situation may include conditions or a character of the section prevailing in the respective section, such as the type of road, crossing or the like to be traveled.

"Data with respect to the constitution of the section may be provided using a suitable system, such as a navigation system, a driver assistance system or other information systems. The data are able to classify or characterize the condition of the section. From the data with respect to the condition of the section, the traffic situation assigned to the section may be determined. A predetermined value assigned to the traffic situation may be stored retrievably in a data base. The predetermined value in this case may, for instance, be retrievably stored in a route data base of the navigation system, driver assistance system or other information system, or in another memory internal or external to the vehicle. Such a specific embodiment has the advantage that the maximum fatigue value may be adjusted optimally to the respective section, and may be coordinated even more accurately with the respective traffic situation by taking into account the traffic situation in the section. This enables an even more improved determination accuracy of the suitability of the route.

"In the ascertaining step, the maximum fatigue value for the at least one section of the route may also be ascertained with respect to the situation while using data at the time of the passing the at least one section of the route by the vehicle. In this case, the ascertaining step may be carried out, once or several times, before and/or during the traveling of the route. The point in time and the data may be calculated ahead of time, in this instance. The data may also include sensor signals of vehicle sensors or other information signals of systems internal or external to the vehicle. The data may, for instance, have vehicle position information, route course information, travel rest stop information, traffic density information, time information, weather information, road information and/or the like. Such a specific embodiment has the advantage of an ascertainment, coordinated optimally with the respective section of the route, of a maximum fatigue value as accurate and as current as possible. This is able to optimize the accuracy of the determination of the suitability even further.

"According to one specific embodiment, in the determining step, in each case, a fatigue prediction value may be determined for each section of the route, and in the carrying out step, in each case a comparison may be carried out for each section of the route, and in the step of weighting, the route may be weighted using a fatigue weighting that is a function of the comparisons, in order to determine the suitability of the route for traveling on by the driver. This has the advantage that the determination of the suitability of the route is improved, since the route may be evaluated more accurately by taking into account all the sections of the route.

"The present invention also provides an example device for determining a suitability of a route including a plurality of sections for traveling on by a driver of a vehicle, the example device having the following features:

"a device to determine a fatigue prediction value, which predicts the fatigue of a driver of the vehicle for at least one section of the route;

"a device to carry out a comparison of the fatigue prediction value using a maximum fatigue value assigned to the at least one section of the route; and

"a device to weight the route using a fatigue weighting depending on the comparison, so as to determine the suitability of the route for traveling on by the driver.

"In the case at hand, a device may be understood to be an electrical or an electronic device, which processes route data and fatigue data, and outputs a fatigue weighting and suitability information as a function thereof. The device may have an interface which may be developed along hardware and/or software lines. In a hardware-type development, the interfaces may, for instance, be a part of a so-called system ASIC, which includes the most varied functions of the device. However, it is also possible for the interfaces to be characteristic, integrated switching circuits or to be at least partially made up of discrete components. In a software development, the interfaces may be software modules which are present on a microcontroller, in addition to other software modules, for example. However, the device does not have to include the apparatus or not all the apparatus itself, but rather, data from units already installed in the vehicle may further be used for the present invention. The present invention also provides an example device that is developed to carry out or implement the steps of the example method according to the present invention. The example device may particularly have apparatus that is developed for each to carry out one step of the example method. This embodiment variant of the present invention in the form of a device may also be used quickly and efficiently.

"An advantageous development also includes an example computer program product having program code that is stored on a machine-readable medium such as a semiconductor memory, a hard-disk memory or an optical memory, which is used to implement the example method according to one of the specific embodiments described above, when the program is executed on a device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The present invention is explained in greater detail with reference to the figures.

"FIG. 1 shows a block diagram of a vehicle in which an example device according to exemplary embodiments of the present invention is situated.

"FIG. 2 shows a schematic representation of a plurality of routes including sections.

"FIG. 3 shows a flow chart of a method according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Vogel, Andreas. Method and Device for Determining a Suitability of a Route. Filed May 14, 2012 and posted July 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1078&p=22&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140717.PD.&OS=PD/20140717&RS=PD/20140717

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Software.

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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