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Although many current auto-related technologies are focusing on taking the steering wheel out of drivers' hands, a new project could potentially help to get more hands on the wheel. Born from Microsoft Research India, the research program is titled Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety, or HAMS for short. Microsoft recently released a video that focuses on one part of project: automated driving tests.

Microsoft's research page, found by Gizmodo, lists three people leading the charge: principal research program manager Satish Sangameswaran, deputy managing director of Microsoft Research India Venkat Padmanabhan, and senior researcher Akshay Nambi. At the core of this project is the desire to make roads safer, but not strictly by eliminating drivers. Here's the overview straight from the source: 

"In the HAMS project, we use low-cost sensing devices to construct a virtual harness for vehicles. The goal is to monitor the state of the driver and how the vehicle is being driven in the context of a road environment that the vehicle is in. We believe that effective monitoring leading to actionable feedback is key to promoting road safety."

Those low-cost sensing devices they're referring to are off-the-shelf smartphones that have all sorts of sensors, cameras, and other useful technologies already built in. The smartphone is mounted to the center of the windshield with the main camera facing the road, and the screen facing the interior fo the car. This allows the phone to read the environment ahead, while the screen-side camera reads the driver. All the while, the phone's gyroscopes or accelerometers are collecting data based on driver's reactions to the commute. HAMS would then interpret the data and provide feedback of how to drive safely.

In addition to a business-oriented fleet-management dashboard, the HAMS developers have worked with the Institute of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTR) and Maruti-Suzuki to launch a pilot program for driver training. Specifically, HAMS has the idea of automating driving tests, meaning the smartphone could run the test without an instructor in the vehicle. 

Check out the video demonstrations of the technology below, and read more about HAMS at Microsoft.com.


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