"Microsleep" is defined as a spontaneous reaction of the human organism to over-fatigue. At the onset, the body sends signals designed to tell a person that it is time to stop and get some rest. Although most of us simply ignore them and continue on, the signals are pretty clear. Symptoms include burning eyes, eyes that blink frequently but more slowly, pupils becoming smaller, yawning and shivering. Adding just one second to the time an eye stays closed while blinking in a vehicle traveling 60 mph renders the vehicle driverless for 88 feet.
Mercedes-Benz is working on several different systems to warn drivers of the early stages of microsleep. It is developing systems that monitor the driver's eyes to detect altered blinking patterns. When it does, there will be an audible warning to the driver. There is also a system that monitors driving habits and enters values into an algorithm. When the driver's driving patterns fall out of the calculated range, such as no steering wheel movement for a long period of time, an alarm is triggered.
As the frequency of spending long, monotonous periods of time behind the wheel grows, these systems seem to make more and more sense. Commute times as well as driving vacations are increasing exponentially as the number of vehicles on the road explodes, making these systems more and more necessary to help keep drivers more alert behind the wheel.
[Source: Piston Heads]