In an emergency, every second counts when the rescue team is headed to their destination. Rightfully, police, firefighter or ambulance vehicles require special attention from drivers. Each of us can likely think of a time when we were driving along, perhaps distracted by a phone call or a song on the radio, and an emergency vehicle took us by surprise when flashing lights suddenly appeared in our mirrors.
Consequently, Nuance has added an additional safety feature to Dragon Drive called Siren detection. The system makes explicit use of the distinct structure inherent to emergency siren signals to achieve reliable recognition in adverse acoustic conditions and at low signal-to-noise ratios. Visual and audio notifications sent to the driver assures he or she recognizes the approaching emergency vehicle and can adapt his or her driving style accordingly. In addition, music volume is turned down automatically to increase awareness.
“The emergency vehicle detection feature can be integrated without a need for additional hardware as it uses existing microphones that are part of the vehicle’s interior design,” explains Friedrich Faubel, Principal Research Engineer at Nuance. “Using acoustic echo cancellation to remove the music playback from the microphone signals, we ensure reliable siren detection and instant driver notification.”
Siren detection: Crucial technology for autonomous driving
In the future, semi-autonomous or even fully autonomous cars will need to automatically move for ambulances and other emergency vehicles, or at least give control back to the driver. Here, the siren detection capabilities of the mobility assistant come in handy and will help to make autonomous driving safer and increase trust and acceptance by users.
“Today the siren detection is mainly based on audio signals so vehicles can be detected even if they are out of sight. Once additional sensors like radars, lidars and cameras become standard in new vehicles, or emergency vehicles communicate their location and routing via car2x communication, our technology will be able to fuse and leverage these additional sensor results,” says Friedrich Faubel.