Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
TOUCH SENSOR SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR VEHICLES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/175101
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Touch sensor for a steering wheel having a circular gripping element, the touch sensor including an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting infrared light beams outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by an object touching the gripping element, an activator activating the proximity sensor array, and a processor, coupled with the activator and with the proximity sensor array, repeatedly activating the proximity sensor array at a rate faster than a human heartbeat, determining locations along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the object, responsive to light beams projected by the proximity sensor array and reflected back by the object being detected by the proximity sensor array, and identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to changes in blood flow through the hand.

Inventors:
FROJDH GUNNAR MARTIN (SE)
JUBNER ALEXANDER (SE)
ERIKSSON BJORN THOMAS (SE)
HOLMGREN STEFAN JOHANNES (SE)
SVERUD PER OSCAR (SE)
Application Number:
PCT/US2018/020989
Publication Date:
September 27, 2018
Filing Date:
March 06, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NEONODE INC (US)
International Classes:
B60W40/08
Foreign References:
US20040044203A12004-03-04
US20160084869A12016-03-24
US20170054946A12017-02-23
US20160377508A12016-12-29
EP3124352A12017-02-01
US20150123947A12015-05-07
US9741184B22017-08-22
US9164625B22015-10-20
Other References:
See also references of EP 3601002A4
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERGER, Marc A. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element, the touch sensor distinguishing between a human hand gripping the wheel and an inanimate object gripping the wheel, the touch sensor comprising:

an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting infrared light beams outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by an object touching the gripping element;

an activator activating said proximity sensor array; and a processor, coupled with said activator and with said proximity sensor array, repeatedly activating said proximity sensor array at a rate faster than a human heartbeat, determining locations along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the object, responsive to light beams projected by said proximity sensor array and reflected back by the object being detected by said proximity sensor array, and identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to changes in blood flow through the hand.

2. The touch sensor of claim 1, wherein said processor further calculates a pulse rate based on the periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections.

3. A touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element, the touch sensor distinguishing between a human hand gripping

-47- the wheel and an inanimate object gripping the wheel, the touch sensor comprising:

an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting infrared light beams outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by an object touching the gripping element; and

a processor, coupled with said proximity sensor array, identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to micro- movements of the object.

4. A touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element with a thumb-receiving notch disposed along its circumference, the touch sensor comprising:

an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting light beams through the notch radially outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by two objects moving along opposing portions of the notch; and

a processor, coupled with said proximity sensor array, (i) determining polar angles along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the objects as they move, responsive to light beams projected by said proximity sensor array and reflected back by each object being detected by said proximity sensor array, (ii) determining whether the objects are moving toward each other or away from each other, (Hi) interpreting the objects moving toward each other as a pinch gesture and (iv) interpreting the objects moving away from each other as a spread gesture.

-48-

5. A touch sensor system for a steering wheel having a circular gripping element and a plurality of spokes connecting the circular gripping element to a central hub, each spoke comprising a touch sensor operative to detect glide gestures along the spoke toward and away from the central hub, the touch sensor system comprising a processor, coupled with each said touch sensor, (i) identifying simultaneous glide gestures along two of the spokes, (ii) determining whether the two glide gestures are toward the central hub or away from the central hub, (Hi) interpreting the two glide gestures toward the central hub as a pinch gesture, and (iv) interpreting the two glide gestures away from the central hub as a spread gesture.

6. A vehicle comprising:

an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that selectively performs, and selectively stops performing, automated vehicle navigation operations;

a steering wheel with which a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed;

a sensor operable to detect a driver's hand at a plurality of locations on said steering wheel;

a plurality of visible-light emitters operable to illuminate the plurality of locations on said steering wheel; and

a processor, coupled with said ADAS, with said sensor and with said visible-light emitters, performing the following functions while said ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations:

(i) an activating function that activates at least one of said emitters to illuminate a location on said steering wheel,

(ii) a detecting function that detects, via said sensor, when the driver touches the illuminated location, and

-49- (Mi) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when said ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the activating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the illuminated location.

7. The vehicle of claim 6, further comprising an audio system, wherein the activation function causes the audio system to provide an audio prompt to the driver to touch the illuminated location.

8. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor detects, via said sensor, an initial location of the driver's hand on said steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and selects a location on said steering wheel to illuminate based on the detected initial location.

9. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor detects, via said sensor, initial locations of the driver's two hands on said steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and further identifies the driver's handedness based on which hand touches the illuminated location.

10. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS configures a parameter of the automated vehicle navigation operations in response to the degree of driver preparedness calculated by said processor.

11. The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the parameter is a distance from a vehicle ahead.

12. The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the parameter is a vehicle speed.

-50-

13. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS navigates the vehicle to a parking location in response to a low degree of driver preparedness calculated by said processor.

14. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor configures the activating function based on a prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

15. The vehicle of claim 14, wherein the activating function selects an illumination color based on the prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

16. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS instructs said processor to perform the activating, detecting and calculating functions, based on an anticipated change in driving conditions.

17. The vehicle of claim 16, wherein the anticipated change in driving conditions is an automated navigation instruction to exit a highway.

18. A vehicle comprising:

an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that selectively performs, and selectively stops performing, automated vehicle navigation operations, wherein a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed;

a touch screen display; and

a processor, coupled with said ADAS and with said touch screen display, performing the following functions while said ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations:

-51- (i) an indicating function that indicates a location on said touch screen display,

(ii) a detecting function that detects when the driver touches the indicated location, and

(iii) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when said ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the indicating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the indicated location.

19. The vehicle of claim 18, further comprising a speaker, coupled with said processor, creating a sound to alert the driver that the indicating function is imminent.

20. A non-transitory computer readable medium storing instructions which, when executed by a processor of a vehicle having a touch-sensitive steering wheel grip, cause the processor to enable starting the vehicle engine in response to an extended slide gesture comprising two hands grasping the grip and sliding in opposite directions along different halves of the grip.

21. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to calibrate the touch-sensitive steering wheel grip based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

22. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to check whether all locations along the grip detect

-52- touch, based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

23. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 22 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, further cause the processor to generate an error state when not all locations along the length of the grip detect touch.

24. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 wherein the extended slide gesture wipes away dirt from the grip that would interfere with the steering wheel touch sensor.

25. A sensor system for receiving driver input to activate vehicle operations, comprising:

a first sensor mounted in a steering wheel that detects movement of a hand on the steering wheel;

a second sensor mounted in the steering wheel that detects the same movement; and

a processor coupled with said first and second sensors that activates vehicle operations in response to the movement detected by both said first sensor and said second sensor.

26. The sensor system of claim 25 wherein said first and second sensors are reflection-based sensors.

27. The sensor system of claim 26 wherein said first and second sensors each comprise:

a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel; and

-53- an interleaved array of near-infrared emitters and receivers mounted on said PCB, such that the emitters project near-infrared beams across a detection area and the receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the detection area.

28. The sensor system of claim 27 wherein said first and second sensors are situated along different edges of the detection area.

29. The sensor system of claim 27 wherein said first and second sensors are both situated along one common edge of the detection area.

30. The sensor system of claim 26 further comprising a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel,

wherein said first sensor comprises:

an interleaved array of first sensor near-infrared emitters and first sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on said PCB, such that the first sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a first detection area and the first sensor receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the first detection area; and

a first sensor controller mounted on said PCB, synchronously activating said first sensor emitters and said first sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movements from the receiver detections, and wherein said second sensor comprises:

an interleaved array of second sensor near-infrared emitters and second sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on said PCB, interleaved with said first sensor emitters and first sensor receivers, such that the second sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a second detection area coplanar with the first detection area, and the second sensor

-54- receivers detect reflections of those projected beams from the driver's hands in the second detection area; and

a second sensor controller mounted on said PCB, synchronously activating said second sensor emitters and said second sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movement on the steering wheel from the second receiver detections.

-55-

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 02 September 2018 (02.09.2018)

1. A method for a driver monitoring system in a vehicle to determine whether an object gripping a steering wheel is a human hand or an inanimate object, the method comprising :

providing an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in a steering wheel grip in a vehicle, projecting infrared light beams outward from the grip, and detecting light beams reflected back into the grip by an object touching the grip;

repeatedly activating the proximity sensor array at a rate faster than a human heartbeat;

determining locations along the grip occupied by the object, responsive to light beams projected by the proximity sensor array and reflected back by the object being detected by the proximity sensor array;

identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to changes in blood flow through the hand; and

identifying the object as being an inanimate object, responsive to absence of the periodic fluctuations.

2. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising calculating a pulse rate based on the periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections.

3. A method for a driver monitoring system in a vehicle to determine whether an object gripping a steering wheel is a human hand or an inanimate object, the method comprising :

providing an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in a steering wheel grip in a vehicle, projecting infrared light beams outward from the grip, and detecting light beams reflected back into the grip by an object touching the grip;

identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to micro-movements of the object; and

identifying the object as being an inanimate object, responsive to absence of the micro-movements.

4. A touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element with a thumb-receiving notch disposed along its circumference, the touch sensor comprising:

an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting light beams through the notch radially outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by two objects moving along opposing portions of the notch; and

a processor, coupled with said proximity sensor array, (i) determining polar angles along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the objects as they move, responsive to light beams projected by said proximity sensor array and reflected back by each object being detected by said proximity sensor array, (ii) determining whether the objects are moving toward each other or away from each other, (Hi) interpreting the objects moving toward each other as a pinch gesture and (iv) interpreting the objects moving away from each other as a spread gesture.

5. A touch sensor system for a steering wheel having a circular gripping element and a plurality of spokes connecting the circular gripping element to a central hub, each spoke comprising a touch sensor operative to detect glide gestures along the spoke toward and away from the central hub, the touch sensor system comprising a processor, coupled with each said touch sensor, (i) identifying simultaneous glide gestures along two of the spokes, (ii) determining whether the two glide gestures are toward the central hub or away from the central hub, (Hi) interpreting the two glide gestures toward the central hub as a pinch gesture, and (iv) interpreting the two glide gestures away from the central hub as a spread gesture.

6. A vehicle comprising:

an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that selectively performs, and selectively stops performing, automated vehicle navigation operations;

a steering wheel with which a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed;

a sensor operable to detect a driver's hand at a plurality of locations on said steering wheel;

a plurality of visible-light emitters operable to illuminate the plurality of locations on said steering wheel; and

a processor, coupled with said ADAS, with said sensor and with said visible-light emitters, performing the following functions while said ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations:

(i) an activating function that activates at least one of said emitters to illuminate a location on said steering wheel,

(ii) a detecting function that detects, via said sensor, when the driver touches the illuminated location, and

(iii) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when said ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the activating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the illuminated location.

7. The vehicle of claim 6, further comprising an audio system, wherein the activation function causes the audio system to provide an audio prompt to the driver to touch the illuminated location.

8. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor detects, via said sensor, an initial location of the driver's hand on said steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and selects a location on said steering wheel to illuminate based on the detected initial location.

9. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor detects, via said sensor, initial locations of the driver's two hands on said steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and further identifies the driver's handedness based on which hand touches the illuminated location.

10. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS configures a parameter of the automated vehicle navigation operations in response to the degree of driver preparedness calculated by said processor.

11. The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the parameter is a distance from a vehicle ahead.

12. The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the parameter is a vehicle speed.

13. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS navigates the vehicle to a parking location in response to a low degree of driver preparedness calculated by said processor.

14. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said processor configures the activating function based on a prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

15. The vehicle of claim 14, wherein the activating function selects an illumination color based on the prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

16. The vehicle of claim 6, wherein said ADAS instructs said processor to perform the activating, detecting and calculating functions, based on an anticipated change in driving conditions.

17. The vehicle of claim 16, wherein the anticipated change in driving conditions is an automated navigation instruction to exit a highway.

18. A vehicle comprising:

an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that selectively performs, and selectively stops performing, automated vehicle navigation operations, wherein a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed;

a touch screen display; and

a processor, coupled with said ADAS and with said touch screen display, performing the following functions while said ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations:

(i) an indicating function that indicates a location on said touch screen display,

(ii) a detecting function that detects when the driver touches the indicated location, and (Mi) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when said ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the indicating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the indicated location.

19. The vehicle of claim 18, further comprising a speaker, coupled with said processor, creating a sound to alert the driver that the indicating function is imminent.

20. A non-transitory computer readable medium storing instructions which, when executed by a processor of a vehicle having a touch-sensitive steering wheel grip, cause the processor to enable starting the vehicle engine in response to an extended slide gesture comprising two hands grasping the grip and sliding in opposite directions along different halves of the grip.

21. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to calibrate the touch-sensitive steering wheel grip based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

22. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to check whether all locations along the grip detect touch, based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

23. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 22 whose stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, further cause the processor to generate an error state when not all locations along the length of the grip detect touch.

24. The non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 20 wherein the extended slide gesture wipes away dirt from the grip that would interfere with the steering wheel touch sensor.

25. A sensor system for receiving driver input to activate vehicle operations, comprising :

a first sensor mounted in a steering wheel that detects movement of a hand on the steering wheel;

a second sensor mounted in the steering wheel that detects the same movement; and

a processor coupled with said first and second sensors that activates vehicle operations in response to the movement detected by both said first sensor and said second sensor.

26. The sensor system of claim 25 wherein said first and second sensors are reflection- based sensors.

27. The sensor system of claim 26 wherein said first and second sensors each comprise:

a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel; and an interleaved array of near-infrared emitters and receivers mounted on said PCB, such that the emitters project near-infrared beams across a detection area and the receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the detection area.

28. The sensor system of claim 27 wherein said first and second sensors are situated along different edges of the detection area.

29. The sensor system of claim 27 wherein said first and second sensors are both situated along one common edge of the detection area.

30. The sensor system of claim 26 further comprising a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel,

wherein said first sensor comprises:

an interleaved array of first sensor near-infrared emitters and first sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on said PCB, such that the first sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a first detection area and the first sensor receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the first detection area; and

a first sensor controller mounted on said PCB, synchronously activating said first sensor emitters and said first sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movements from the receiver detections, and wherein said second sensor comprises:

an interleaved array of second sensor near-infrared emitters and second sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on said PCB, interleaved with said first sensor emitters and first sensor receivers, such that the second sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a second detection area coplanar with the first detection area, and the second sensor receivers detect reflections of those projected beams from the driver's hands in the second detection area; and a second sensor controller mounted on said PCB, synchronously activating said second sensor emitters and said second sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movement on the steering wheel from the second receiver detections.

Description:
TOUCH SENSOR SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR VEHICLES FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The field of the present invention is driver user interfaces for vehicles, including (i) safety features that verify that a driver is gripping the steering wheel, (ii) safety features for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) vehicles, and (iii) user interfaces for vehicle functions. The present invention also discloses redundant touch and gesture sensing systems that duplicate components or functions of a touch and gesture sensing system to increase reliability of the system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Reference is made to FIG. 1, which is a simplified illustration of a prior art steering wheel. A steering wheel 400, shown in FIG. 1, includes a circular gripping member 401, one or more connecting members 402 - 404 that connect the gripping member 401 to steering column 407, and buttons 405 and 406 on connecting members 402 and 403 for controlling various devices in the vehicle. Connecting members 402 - 404, which connect gripping member 401 to steering column 407, are also referred to as spokes. In FIG. 1, button 405 is used to answer an incoming phone call on the vehicle's BLUETOOTH® speaker phone and button 406 hangs up the call. BLUETOOTH is a trademark owned by the Bluetooth SIG of Kirkland, WA, USA. Controls mounted in a steering wheel can be operated comfortably and safely since the driver is able to control and operate these controls without taking hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.

[0003] Prior art cars are equipped with a safety device in the form of sensors in the steering wheel that detect whether the diver is gripping the wheel and issue a warning when the driver's hands are not on the wheel. The prior art sensors do not distinguish a human hand from any other object touching the wheel. This could lead certain drivers to trick the safety device by wrapping an object around the steering wheel grip when driving without holding on to the steering wheel.

[0004] ADAS vehicles require driver intervention in certain situations. It would thus be advantageous to track and measure driver preparedness for such intervention in ADAS vehicles.

[0005] In many safety-critical systems, such as those found in aircraft, certain controls are required to be duplicated. It would thus be advantageous to provide duplicated touch sensors for detecting touch and gestures in safety-critical systems.

[0006] In modern vehicles, the user interface for vehicle ignition is by pressing a button on the dashboard. It would be advantageous to provide user interfaces that are more user friendly and intuitive than a dashboard button.

SUMMARY

[0007] There is thus provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element, the touch sensor distinguishing between a human hand gripping the wheel and an inanimate object gripping the wheel, the touch sensor including an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting infrared light beams outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by an object touching the gripping element, an activator activating the proximity sensor array, and a processor, coupled with the activator and with the proximity sensor array, repeatedly activating the proximity sensor array at a rate faster than a human heartbeat, determining locations along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the object, responsive to light beams projected by the proximity sensor array and reflected back by the object being detected by the proximity sensor array, and identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to changes in blood flow through the hand. In some embodiments of the invention, the processor calculates a pulse rate based on the periodic fluctuations in the reflected light detections.

[0008] There is additionally provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element, the touch sensor distinguishing between a human hand gripping the wheel and an inanimate object gripping the wheel, the touch sensor including an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting infrared light beams outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by an object touching the gripping element, and a processor, coupled with the proximity sensor array, identifying the object as being a human hand, responsive to fluctuations in the reflected light detections due to micro-movements of the object.

[0009] There is further provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a touch sensor for a steering wheel that has a circular gripping element with a thumb-receiving notch disposed along its circumference, the touch sensor including an array of light-based proximity sensors, mounted in the gripping element, projecting light beams through the notch radially outward from the gripping element, and detecting light beams reflected back into the gripping element by two objects moving along opposing portions of the notch, and a processor, coupled with the proximity sensor array, (i) determining polar angles along the circumference of the gripping element occupied by the objects as they move, responsive to light beams projected by the proximity sensor array and reflected back by each object being detected by the proximity sensor array, (ii) determining whether the objects are moving toward each other or away from each other, (Hi) interpreting the objects moving toward each other as a pinch gesture and (iv) interpreting the objects moving away from each other as a spread gesture.

[0010] There is yet further provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a touch sensor system for a steering wheel having a circular gripping element and a plurality of spokes connecting the circular gripping element to a central hub, each spoke including a touch sensor operative to detect glide gestures along the spoke toward and away from the central hub, the touch sensor system including a processor, coupled with each the touch sensor, (i) identifying simultaneous glide gestures along two of the spokes, (ii) determining whether the two glide gestures are toward the central hub or away from the central hub, (Hi) interpreting the two glide gestures toward the central hub as a pinch gesture, and (iv) interpreting the two glide gestures away from the central hub as a spread gesture.

[0011] There is moreover provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle including an advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) that selectively performs and selectively stops performing automated vehicle navigation operations, a steering wheel with which a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed, a sensor operable to detect a driver's hand at a plurality of locations on the steering wheel, a plurality of visible-light emitters operable to illuminate the plurality of locations on the steering wheel, and a processor, coupled with the ADAS, with the sensor and with the visible-light emitters, performing the following functions while the ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations: (i) an activating function that activates at least one of the emitters to illuminate a location on the steering wheel, (ii) a detecting function that detects, via the sensor, when the driver touches the illuminated location, and (iii) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when the ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the activating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the illuminated location. In some embodiments of the invention, the activating function causes an audio system in the vehicle to emit an audio prompt indicating that the driver should touch the illuminated location.

[0012] In some embodiments of the invention, the processor detects, via the sensor, an initial location of the driver's hand on the steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and selects a location on the steering wheel to illuminate based on the detected initial location. [0013] In some embodiments of the invention, the processor detects, via the sensor, initial locations of the driver's two hands on the steering wheel prior to performing the activating function, and further identifies the driver's handedness based on which hand touches the illuminated location.

[0014] In some embodiments of the invention, the ADAS configures a parameter of the automated vehicle navigation operations in response to the degree of driver preparedness calculated by the processor. The parameter is, e.g., a distance from a vehicle ahead or vehicle speed.

[0015] In some embodiments of the invention, the ADAS navigates the vehicle to a parking location in response to a low degree of driver preparedness calculated by the processor.

[0016] In some embodiments of the invention, the processor configures the activating function based on a prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

[0017] In some embodiments of the invention, the activating function selects an illumination color based on the prior calculated degree of driver preparedness.

[0018] In some embodiments of the invention, the ADAS instructs the processor to perform the activating, detecting and calculating functions, based on an anticipated change in driving conditions.

[0019] In some embodiments of the invention, the anticipated change in driving conditions is an automated navigation instruction to exit a highway.

[0020] There is additionally provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle including an ADAS that selectively performs and selectively stops performing automated vehicle navigation operations, wherein a human driver steers the vehicle when the automated vehicle navigation operations are not performed, a touch screen display, and a processor, coupled with the ADAS and with the touch screen display, performing the following functions while the ADAS is performing the automated vehicle navigation operations: (i) an indicating function that indicates a location on the touch screen display, (ii) a detecting function that detects when the driver touches the indicated location, and (iii) a calculating function that calculates a degree of driver preparedness for taking control of steering the vehicle when the ADAS stops performing the automated vehicle navigation operations, based on at least one of time elapsed between the indicating function and the detecting function, and proximity of the driver touch to the indicated location.

[0021] In some embodiments of the invention, the vehicle further includes a speaker, coupled with the processor, creating a sound to alert the driver that the indicating function is imminent.

[0022] There is further provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a non-transitory computer readable medium storing instructions which, when executed by a processor of a vehicle having a touch-sensitive steering wheel grip, cause the processor to enable starting the vehicle engine in response to an extended slide gesture including two hands grasping the grip and sliding in opposite directions along different halves of the grip.

[0023] In some embodiments of the invention, the stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to calibrate the touch-sensitive steering wheel grip based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

[0024] In some embodiments of the invention, the stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, additionally cause the processor to check whether all locations along the grip detect touch, based on touch detections occurring during the extended slide gesture.

[0025] In some embodiments of the invention, the stored instructions, when executed by the vehicle processor, further cause the processor to generate an error state when not all locations along the length of the grip detect touch.

[0026] In some embodiments of the invention, the extended slide gesture wipes away dirt from the grip that would interfere with the steering wheel touch sensor.

[0027] There is yet further provided in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, a sensor system for receiving driver input to activate vehicle operations, including a first sensor mounted in a steering wheel that detects movement of a hand on the steering wheel, a second sensor mounted in the steering wheel that detects the same movement, and a processor coupled with the first and second sensors that activates vehicle operations in response to the movement detected by both the first sensor and the second sensor.

[0028] In some embodiments of the invention, the first and second sensors are reflection-based sensors.

[0029] In some embodiments of the invention, the first and second sensors each include a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel, and an interleaved array of near-infrared emitters and receivers mounted on the PCB, such that the emitters project near-infrared beams across a detection area and the receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the detection area.

[0030] In some embodiments of the invention, the first and second sensors are situated along different edges of the detection area.

[0031] In some embodiments of the invention, the first and second sensors are both situated along one common edge of the detection area.

[0032] In some embodiments of the invention, the sensor system includes a printed circuit board (PCB) mounted in the steering wheel, wherein the first sensor includes an interleaved array of first sensor near-infrared emitters and first sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on the PCB, such that the first sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a first detection area and the first sensor receivers detect reflections of the projected beams from a driver's hands in the first detection area, and a first sensor controller mounted on the PCB, synchronously activating the first sensor emitters and the first sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movements from the receiver detections, and the second sensor includes an interleaved array of second sensor near-infrared emitters and second sensor near-infrared receivers mounted on the PCB, interleaved with the first sensor emitters and first sensor receivers, such that the second sensor emitters project near-infrared beams across a second detection area coplanar with the first detection area, and the second sensor receivers detect reflections of those projected beams from the driver's hands in the second detection area, and a second sensor controller mounted on the PCB, synchronously activating the second sensor emitters and the second sensor receivers, and identifying the driver's hand movement on the steering wheel from the second receiver detections.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0033] The present invention will be more fully understood and appreciated from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the drawings in which:

[0034] FIG. 1 is a simplified illustration of a prior art steering wheel;

[0035] FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0036] FIG. 3 is a cutaway view of a segment of the steering wheel of FIG. 2, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0037] FIGS. 4 and 5 are exploded views of the steering wheel segment illustrated in FIG. 3, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0038] FIG. 6 is a simplified illustration of electronic components in the steering wheel segment of FIG. 3 connected to a processor, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0039] FIG. 7 is a simplified illustration of a structure of light baffles placed upon the electronic components in FIG. 6, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0040] FIG. 8 is a simplified illustration of light beams detecting an object, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0041] FIG. 9 is a simplified side view illustration of light beams projected radially outward from a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0042] FIG. 10 is a simplified illustration of communication between touch detection firmware and multiple clients over a network, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0043] FIGS. 11A - HE are simplified illustrations of five basic gesture components used in a steering wheel user interface, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; [0044] FIG. 12 is a flowchart of an exemplary vehicle user interface, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0045] FIGS. 13A - 131 are simplified illustrations of user interface gestures performed on a steering wheel for an exemplary adaptive cruise control function, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0046] FIG. 14 is a simplified illustration of a multi-touch double-tap gesture to activate an autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0047] FIGS. 15A and 15B are simplified illustrations of a user interface indicating activation of an autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0048] FIGS. 16A and 16B are simplified illustrations of a gesture and an exemplary user interface for exiting autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0049] FIGS. 17A and 17B are simplified illustrations showing how an incoming call is received, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0050] FIGS. 18A and 18B are simplified illustrations showing how to hang up a call, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0051] FIGS. 19A and 19B are simplified illustrations of a user interface for a park assist function, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0052] FIGS. 20 - 26 are simplified illustrations of multi-finger pinch and stretch gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

[0053] FIGS. 27 and 28 are simplified illustrations of multi-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

[0054] FIGS. 29 and 30 are simplified illustrations of one-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention; [0055] FIGS. 31 - 34 are simplified illustrations of multi-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

[0056] FIG. 35 is a simplified illustration of micro-movements detected on a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0057] FIG. 36 is a simplified illustration of blood flow through a hand, the blood flow being detected by a reflectance-based sensor in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0058] FIGS. 37 - 44 are graphs of filtered detections of blood flow inside a hand gripping a steering wheel equipped with reflectance- based sensors, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0059] FIG. 45 is a pair of graphs, namely, a top graph of detections of blood flow inside a hand gripping a steering wheel, and a bottom graph of an estimated period in the detections of the top graph, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0060] FIG. 46 is a graph illustrating the spectrum of a pulse-detection signal, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0061] FIG. 47 is a graph illustrating modulation of a pulse-detection signal over time, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0062] FIG. 48 is a graph illustrating an estimated frequency of a pulse- detection signal, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0063] FIGS. 49A - 49C are simplified illustrations of a system for measuring driver alertness, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0064] FIG. 50 is a simplified illustration of a gesture for starting a vehicle, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and [0065] FIGS.51A, 51B, 52 and 53 are simplified illustrations of systems with duplicated touch sensors, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

[0066] In the disclosure and figures, the following numbering scheme is used. Light transmitters are numbered in the 100's, light detectors are numbered in the 200's, light guides and lenses are numbered in the 300 s, miscellaneous items are numbered in the 400's, light beams are numbered in the 600 s, and flow chart elements are numbered 1000 - 1100. Like numbered elements are similar but not necessarily identical.

[0067] The following tables catalog the numbered elements and list the figures in which each numbered element appears.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0068] Aspects of the present disclosure relate to light-based touch controls that allow a driver to keep his hands on a steering element while operating peripheral electronic devices and automated features in a vehicle.

[0069] According to a first embodiment of the invention, a steering wheel is provided with a touch sensitive strip disposed along the entire circumference of the steering wheel. In order to facilitate locating the strip, it is disposed in a thumb receiving notch or groove that is etched or otherwise formed along the circumference of the steering wheel. In addition to a touch sensor, there is also a visible-light illuminator behind or around the touch sensitive strip that is used to indicate the state of the user interface to the user, and also indicate where certain tap gestures should be performed.

[0070] A user interface for this steering wheel is designed to be independent of the rotation of the steering wheel. Sweep gestures are clockwise and counter-clockwise so that they are independent of rotation of the wheel. A function is activated in response to a gesture, such as a double-tap, performed anywhere along the circumference of the wheel. The activation of some functions places the user interface into a state in which one or more additional functions can be selectively activated. In order to activate these additional functions, the touch location at which the initial gesture was performed is illuminated and subsequent gestures are performed in relation to the illuminated portion of the wheel. When a portion of the wheel is thus illuminated, and the driver slides his hand along the steering wheel grip, the illuminated portion of the steering wheel follows the hand so that the hand is always next to the location for performing subsequent gestures. Similarly, when the user switches hands gripping the steering wheel, the illumination jumps to the newly gripped part of the wheel.

[0071] Reference is made to FIG. 2, which is an exploded view of a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Elements of this steering wheel include steering wheel frame 411, PCB 414, an array of lenses 300, a light baffle structure 415, and a steering wheel top cover 412. A thumb-receiving notch 413 is disposed within steering wheel cover 412.

[0072] Reference is made to FIG. 3, which is a cutaway view of a segment of the steering wheel of FIG. 2, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Thumb- receiving notch 413 is illustrated in FIG. 3. Two light transmissive portions of cover 412 are also shown in FIG. 3. A first light transmissive portion 417 forms the side wall of thumb-receiving notch 413. Light beams traveling into and out of this portion provide touch detection and proximity detection, as explained below. Three touch detection light beams 602 are shown directed radially outward from the steering wheel gripping element. The second light transmissive portion 416 forms a floor of thumb-receiving notch 413, and is used for visible illumination indicating a state of the user interface to the driver, and at which location the driver should perform additional user interface gestures.

[0073] Reference is made to FIGS. 4 and 5, which are exploded views of the steering wheel segment illustrated in FIG. 3, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 4, two concentric rows of elements are mounted on PCB 414. Namely, an inner row of light detectors 200 and an outer row of light emitters 100. Light from the emitters enters lenses 300 through which it is re-directed out of the steering wheel through light transmissive portion 417 as light beams 602, illustrated in FIGS. 3, 8 and 9. An object such as a thumb placed in notch 413 reflects the light back through portion 417 and lenses 300 onto one or more of the light detectors 200, thereby providing touch detection, as illustrated in FIG. 8. Similarly, an object such as a user's hand placed along the outer rim of the steering wheel outside notch 413 and opposite light transmissive portion 417 also reflects the light back through portion 417 and lenses 300 onto one or more of the light detectors 200, thereby providing proximity detection.

[0074] FIG. 5 shows an exploded view from below of the steering wheel segment illustrated in FIG. 3, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

[0075] Reference is made to FIG. 6, which is a simplified illustration of electronic components in the steering wheel segment of FIG. 3 connected to a processor, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 6 shows processor 440 connected to PCB 414 on which three concentric arrangements of light elements are mounted, namely, an inner circular arrangement of inward facing light detectors, including detectors 201 and 202; a middle circular arrangement of inward facing light emitters, including emitters 101 and 102; and an outer circular arrangement of outward facing light emitters 106 - 109. The inward facing light emitters are used for touch and proximity detection and typically emit light in the near infrared range. Processor 440 controls activation of the emitters and detectors, and detects gestures performed on the steering wheel based on these activations and based on the outputs of the detectors.

[0076] The outward facing light emitters are used to provide visual indications to the user by illuminating light transmissive portion 416 of the steering wheel cover, and emit light in the visible range. Lenses 300 are described in U.S. Patent No. 9,741,184, entitled DOOR HANDLE WITH OPTICAL PROXIMITY SENSORS, the contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety by reference. [0077] Reference is made to FIG. 7, which is a simplified illustration of a structure of light baffles placed upon the electronic components in FIG. 6, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 shows PCB 414 and lenses 300 of FIG. 6, but with baffle structure 415 placed above the mounted light elements.

[0078] Reference is made to FIG. 8, which is a simplified illustration of light beams detecting an object, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 8 illustrates a light path used to detect an object. Shown in FIG. 8 are individual lens structures 301 - 305. Each lens structure serves a respective opposite emitter and two detectors, one to the left of the emitter and one to the right of the emitter. Thus, for example, lens structure 305 serves emitter 105 and detectors 205 and 206. In addition, each detector is served by two lens structures; e.g., detector 205 receives reflected light from lens structures 304 and 305. In the example shown in FIG. 8, light from emitter 105 is reflected by an object (not shown) into lens structure 303 and onto detector 203. Three segments of the detected light are indicated in FIG. 8; namely, light beam 602 projected outward from lens structure 305 and radially outward of the steering wheel, light beam 603 reflected by the object into lens structure 303, and light beam 604 directed by lens structure 303 onto detector 203.

[0079] Reference is made to FIG. 9, which is a simplified side view illustration of light beams projected radially outward from a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 9 shows a cutaway side view of the light path illustrated in FIG. 8. FIG. 9 shows light beam 601 from emitter 105 entering lens structure 305, where it is redirected outward as light beam 602.

[0080] Methods for determining two-dimensional coordinates of an object detected by the disclosed proximity sensor array are described in U.S. Patent No. 9,164,625, entitled OPTICAL PROXIMITY SENSORS, and U.S. Patent No. 9,741,184, entitled DOOR HANDLE WITH OPTICAL PROXIMITY SENSORS, both incorporated herein in their entireties by reference. Because the present application is for a steering wheel and the proximity sensor array is arranged along an arc-shaped grip of the steering wheel, the determined coordinates are polar coordinates, including a polar angle and a radial coordinate. The polar angle corresponds to a coordinate along the proximity sensor array, which in US Patent Nos. 9,164,625 and 9,741,184 is described as an x-axis coordinate. The radial coordinate corresponds to a distance from the proximity sensor array, which in US Patent Nos. 9,164,625 and 9,741,184 is described as a y-axis coordinate.

[0081] Discussion now turns to the firmware and software used to detect and interpret user gestures. There are five basic gesture components that are detected by the hardware and low level drivers: (i) Thumb-Tap, (ii) Thumb-Glide, (Hi) Thumb-Long-Press, (iv) Grab and (v) Rim-Tap. These components are emitted on the network as they are detected, and are used by higher level software to assemble more complex gestures such as double-taps. Application software interprets these gestures as input commands. In some embodiments of the invention multiple client applications are connected via a network to the detector firmware. The firmware sends information for each detected gesture component over the network, and a client application translates that information into commands and/or constructs compound gestures from multiple gesture components.

[0082] Reference is made to FIG. 10, which is a simplified illustration of communication between touch detection firmware and multiple clients over a network, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 10 shows an exemplary network architecture in which processor 440 sends detected gesture components over message bus 444, e.g., using the Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) messaging protocol on top of the TCP/IP protocol, to connected clients 441 - 443.

[0083] The five basic gesture components are categorized according to whether they are performed by a large object (hand) or small object (thumb), and whether the nature of the gesture component is discrete or continuous, as presented in the table below.

These gesture components are alternatively referred to as follows.

[0084] The parameters are the same for all gesture components; namely, time stamp, start angle (min_angle), end angle (max_angle), center angle (angle) and state.

[0085] The angle parameters refer to a polar angle along the steering wheel at which the object is detected. Because of the object's size, there is a first polar angle at which the object begins (start angle) and a last polar angle at which the object ends (end angle). The midpoint between the start and end angles (center angle) is used as the object's polar angle. The start and end angles are useful for determining the size of a detected object.

[0086] The state parameter takes on three values: RECOGNIZED, UPDATED and ENDED. The ENDED state is applied to all discrete gesture components, and also when a continuous gesture component ends. The RECOGNIZED and UPDATED states are only applied to continuous gesture components. The RECOGNIZED state is applied when a continuous gesture component is first detected. The UPDATED state is applied during the course of a continuous gesture component.

[0087] The discrete gesture components, Thumb-Tap and Rim-Tap, are emitted to the clients after they happen, and then only one message is sent for the gesture component. They are only sent with the state ENDED.

[0088] The continuous gesture components, Thumb-Glide, Thumb-Long- Press and Grab, are emitted to the clients intermittently from the instant that they are recognized until they end when the hand or finger leaves the rim. When they are first recognized, they are sent to the network with the state RECOGNIZED. With a configurable interval, the gesture component is reported to the network with new parameters and the state UPDATED. When the gesture component ends, the gesture component is sent with the state ENDED.

[0089] Reference is made to FIGS. 11A - HE, which are simplified illustrations of five basic gesture components used in a steering wheel user interface, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIGS. 11A - HE show the five gesture components performed by thumb 418 and hand 419 on steering wheel 410. Some gesture components are illustrated both from above and from the side. When illustrated from the side, thumb 418 is shown interacting with steering wheel surface 420.

[0090] FIG. HA shows that a Grab gesture component is the same as a Thumb-Glide gesture component, except for two distinctions: (i) the Grab gesture is performed by a large object touching the rim, and (ii) the Grab gesture component does not have to move to be reported on the network. When the hand has been on the rim for a certain time threshold, the Grab gesture component is recognized and messages are intermittently sent to the network. FIG. HA shows the Grab gesture component from above by showing hand 419 gripping steering wheel 410. [0091] FIG. 11B shows that a Thumb-Tap gesture component is generated when a small object touches, or gets very close to, the rim and is then lifted from the rim within a short period of time. This period is configurable, but typically it is 100-200 ms. FIG. 11B shows the Thumb- Tap gesture component from above and from the side, and illustrates the movement of thumb 418 by arrows 421.

[0092] FIG. lie shows that a Thumb-Long-Press gesture component is generated when a small object is present, and not moving, on the rim. When the small object has been present for a certain time, messages are sent intermittently to the network about the gesture component. If the object starts moving, the Thumb-Long-Press gesture component is ended and a Thumb-Glide gesture component is started instead. FIG. 11C shows the Thumb- Long -Press gesture component from above and from the side. Clock icon 425 indicates the time threshold required to distinguish this gesture component from a Thumb-Tap.

[0093] FIG. 11D shows that a Thumb-Glide gesture component is generated when a small object touches the rim and moves at least a certain threshold distance along the rim. That distance is configurable. When it continues to move, UPDATE messages are sent when the object has moved a certain distance, also configurable. FIG. 11D shows the Thumb-Glide gesture component from above and from the side, and illustrates the movement of thumb 418 by arrows 422 and 423.

[0094] FIG. HE shows that a Rim-Tap gesture component is the same as a Thumb-Tap, but for a large object such as a hand. FIG. HE shows the Rim-Tap gesture component from the side and illustrates the movement of hand 419 by arrows 424.

[0095] As mentioned above, gesture components are combined into compound user interface gestures. In some cases, environment conditions at the gesture location are combined with the gesture component to define a gesture. For example, a Thumb-Tap gesture performed at one end of an illuminated portion of the rim is translated into a first command, and a Thumb-Tap gesture performed at the other end of the illuminated portion of the rim is translated into a second command. The following table lists the different gestures and compound gestures in an exemplary steering wheel user interface, the gesture components that make up each gesture, additional gesture parameters, and example context and commands for each gesture.

[0096] Reference is made to FIG. 12, which is a flowchart of an exemplary vehicle user interface, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The flowchart illustrates the different application states, different commands within each state, and the gestures used to issue those commands. The details of the gestures are illustrated in FIGS. 13 - 19. In some embodiments a head-up display (HUD) is provided.

[0097] The flowchart of FIG. 12 illustrates a highway scenario that includes three driving modes: Normal Drive 1001, Adaptive Cruise Control 1002 and Autonomous Drive 1003. In Normal Drive mode, the driver steers the vehicle and controls its speed. In Adaptive Cruise Control mode the driver steers the vehicle but the vehicle's speed, its distance from the next vehicle on the road, and other parameters are controlled by the vehicle. In Autonomous Drive mode the vehicle is driven and steered automatically without driver input. [0098] The user enters Adaptive Cruise Control mode from Normal Drive mode by performing a double-tap gesture. The user enters Autonomous Drive mode from Normal Drive mode and from Adaptive Cruise Control mode by performing a multi-touch double-tap gesture. These gestures are described below. In order to alert the driver that Autonomous Drive mode will begin shortly, the steering wheel is illuminated with an illumination pattern that indicates a countdown until Autonomous Drive is activated.

[0099] The user exits Adaptive Cruise Control mode by performing a double-tap gesture that opens a menu on the HUD for changing the mode

1015 of cruise control. The user performs clockwise or counter-clockwise swipe gestures to scroll through the different modes on the HUD, and performs a single-tap gesture to select the displayed mode. One of the modes is Exit ACC 1018, and selecting this mode exits Adaptive Cruise Control. Another mode configures the cruise control application to follow the road signage 1019.

[00100] The user exits Autonomous Drive mode 1013 by grabbing the rim of the steering wheel. In order to alert the driver that Autonomous Drive mode is about to exit, the steering wheel is illuminated with an illumination pattern that indicates a countdown until Autonomous Drive is deactivated. Upon exiting Autonomous Drive mode, the vehicle enters Adaptive Cruise Control mode.

[00101] In Adaptive Cruise Control mode 1002 the user adjusts a distance

1016 between the vehicle and the vehicle directly in front of it, by performing a clockwise or counter-clockwise swipe gesture. The user adjusts the speed of the vehicle 1017 by performing either a tap gesture or an extended touch gesture. When the vehicle enters Adaptive Cruise Control mode 1002 a segment of the steering wheel is illuminated. A tap gesture or extended touch gesture at one end of the illuminated segment increases the vehicle speed, and a tap gesture or extended touch gesture at the other end of illuminated segment decreases the vehicle speed.

[00102] A voice control state 1004 can be entered from Normal Drive mode and Adaptive Cruise Control mode. In this state, the user can initiate a phone call by saying "ca/Γ and the name of a contact from his phone's contact list. Once the call has been connected, the user can hang up 1010 by performing a clockwise swipe gesture. The user can also adjust the volume 1011 by saying the word "volume" and then performing a counterclockwise swipe gesture to raise the volume, or a clockwise swipe gesture to lower the volume.

[00103] When an incoming phone call 1005 is received, the user can answer the call 1012 by performing a counter-clockwise swipe gesture, or decline the call 1012 by performing a clockwise swipe gesture.

[00104] Reference is made to FIGS. 13A - 131, which are simplified illustrations of user interface gestures performed on a steering wheel for an adaptive cruise control function, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In order to enter Adaptive Cruise Control mode from Normal Drive mode the user performs a single-object double-tap gesture. Namely, the user taps twice with his thumb on the thumb notch in the steering wheel. This gesture is shown in FIG. 13A, showing steering wheel 410, hand 419 gripping steering wheel 410, and double-tap gesture 430. The present invention enables the user to perform the double-tap gesture 430 at any location along the perimeter of steering wheel 410.

[00105] When Adaptive Cruise Control is active the user has four options; namely, adjust cruise control speed, adjust the distance between the vehicle and the vehicle ahead, open an adaptive cruise control menu, and activate Autonomous Drive mode. As mentioned above Adaptive Cruise Control is activated when the user taps twice with his thumb in the steering wheel thumb notch. The location of these taps is subsequently illuminated to indicate to the user where to perform future gestures. This is illustrated in FIG. 13B, which shows illuminated segment 436 of the steering wheel 410 at the location at which double-tap 430 was performed. Thus, to increase the cruise control speed the user performs a gesture, e.g., a single-tap, above the illuminated portion. This is illustrated in FIG. 13D, which shows tap gesture 438 at the counter-clockwise edge of illuminated portion 436. The "+" indicates that this gesture increases the speed of the vehicle. FIG. 13E shows gesture 438 performed at the clockwise end of illuminated portion 436, and the "-" indicates that the gesture decreases the speed of the vehicle.

[00106] If the user slides his hand 419 along steering wheel 410, the illuminated portion 436 moves with the hand so that the user's thumb is always next to the illuminated portion of the steering wheel. This is shown in FIG. 13C, in which hand 419 gripping steering wheel 410 slides clockwise as indicated by arrow 428, and illuminated portion 436 also slides in the same direction as indicated by arrow 437.

[00107] In some embodiments of the invention the cruise control speed is also adjusted in response to extended touch gestures above and below the illuminated portion of the steering wheel. For example, the speed is adjusted by 5 km/h in response to a tap gesture, and is adjusted by 1 km/h in response to an extended touch gesture.

[00108] In order to increase or decrease the distance between the vehicle and the vehicle in front of it on the road, the user performs clockwise and counter-clockwise swipe gestures. These are illustrated in FIGS. 13F and 13G. FIG. 13F shows a counter-clockwise gesture 431 to increase the distance between vehicles, and FIG. 13G shows a clockwise gesture 432 to decrease the distance between vehicles.

[00109] In order to change the mode of Adaptive Cruise Control the user performs a radial swipe gesture with his thumb across the width of the steering wheel thumb notch. This is illustrated in FIGS. 13H and 131. FIG. 13H shows swipe gesture 433 that moves outward across the width of illuminated portion 436. FIG. 131 shows swipe gesture 434 that moves inward across the width of illuminated portion 436. Either gesture causes the HUD to present a mode option for selection. The user performs a single-tap gesture with his thumb in the steering wheel notch to accept the displayed mode. The mode displayed in the HUD is changed in response to a swipe gesture. For example, a first mode is to follow road signage. If the user performs a single-tap when this mode is displayed on the HUD, the Follow Road Signage mode is activated. If the user swipes clockwise or counter-clockwise, a next or previous mode is displayed such as exit Adaptive Cruise Control. The user performs a single-tap to activate this mode. If no interaction from the user is received within a fixed amount of time, such as 5 seconds, then the change mode user interface is deactivated.

[00110] Reference is made to FIG. 14, which is a simplified illustration of a multi-touch double-tap gesture to activate an autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 14 illustrates two fingers, 418 and 426, simultaneously tapping at two locations on steering wheel 410. The upper part of this drawing is a view from above, and the lower part of this drawing is a view from the side of each of the fingers 418 and 426. The tap gesture is a brief down and up gesture illustrated by arrows 421 and 428 touching surface 420 of the steering wheel.

[ooiii] Reference is made to FIGS. 15A and 15B, which are simplified illustrations of a user interface indicating activation of an autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Once the user performs the multi-touch double-tap gesture of FIG. 14, a series of locations on the steering wheel is sequentially illuminated over time to indicate a countdown until Autonomous Drive is activated, as shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B. For example, viewing the upright steering wheel as a clock, FIG. 15A shows a sequence of illuminations that begins with (i) the 2:30 and 9: 30 clock positions indicated by a 1; followed by (ii) the 1:30 and 10:30 clock positions indicated by 2; followed by (iii) the 12:30 and 11:30 clock positions indicated by 3. FIG. 15B shows finally illuminating the 12 o'clock position to inform the user that Autonomous Drive is activated and the user can safely take his hands off the wheel.

[00U2] In order to exit Autonomous Drive mode and enter Adaptive Cruise Control mode, the user grabs the steering wheel. Reference is made to FIGS. 16A and 16B, which are simplified illustrations of a gesture and an exemplary user interface for exiting autonomous drive mode, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 16A shows two hands 419 gripping steering wheel 410, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. A series of locations on the steering wheel is then sequentially illuminated to indicate that Autonomous Drive mode is about to be the deactivated. For example, FIG. 16A shows a sequence of illuminations that begins with (i) the 11:30 and 12:30 clock positions indicated by a 1; followed by (ii) the 10:30 and 1:30 clock positions indicated by 2; followed by (iii) the 9:30 and 2: 30 clock positions indicated by 3. When Autonomous Drive mode is deactivated the vehicle enters Adaptive Cruise Control mode, and a portion 436 of steering wheel 410 next to one of the hands 419 gripping the steering wheel is illuminated, as shown in FIG. 16B, and as discussed above with reference to FIG. 13.

[00113] In both Normal Drive mode and Adaptive Cruise Control mode the user can enable voice activated controls by tapping twice on the outer rim of the steering wheel. When voice-activated controls are enabled the user disables these controls by repeating the same double-tap gesture. [00114] Two voice-activated controls are illustrated in FIG. 12: placing a phone call and enabling volume adjustments. To place a phone call the user says "ca/Γ and the name of the person to call, e.g., "call Mom". In order to hang up the call the user performs a swipe gesture along the thumb notch in the steering wheel. To adjust the volume of a call or the stereo system, the user says the word "volume" and then adjusts the volume up or down by swiping clockwise or counter-clockwise along the thumb notch in the steering wheel.

[00115] Reference is made to FIGS. 17A and 17B, which are simplified illustrations showing how an incoming call is received, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 17A shows two hands 419 gripping wheel 410, and FIG. 17B shows that when an incoming call is received, the user answers or declines the call by swiping finger 418 of one hand gripping the wheel, clockwise or counter-clockwise along the thumb notch of the steering wheel, e.g., swipe counter-clockwise to accept the call and swipe clockwise to reject the call.

[00116] Reference is made to FIGS. 18A and 18B, which are simplified illustrations showing how to hang up a call, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The gesture to hang up a call is a clockwise swipe gesture. However, when a call has been active for a certain amount of time, the system ignores clockwise swipe gestures so that the user does not inadvertently hang up the call. In order to hang up the call, the user first taps the outer rim of the steering wheel, as shown by hand 419 in FIG. 18A, to indicate that the system should respond to the next swipe gesture, followed by a clockwise swipe gesture by finger 418 to hang up the call, as shown in FIG. 18B.

[00117] In a city scenario the user interface provides a park assist function that automatically parks the car without the user's intervention. Reference is made to FIGS. 19A and 19B, which are simplified illustrations of a user interface for a park assist function, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. When the vehicle is moving at less than 30 km/h, the Park Assist function begins automatically scanning for available parking spaces. In addition, a faded Park Assist icon 445 appears on the HUD, as illustrated in FIG. 19A. As the car further slows down, this icon becomes bolder 446, 447 until the car has stopped moving. The HUD then presents information about available parking spots, e.g., whether the vehicle can fit into an available spot. The user performs a double-tap on the outer rim of the steering wheel, as illustrated in FIG. 19B, by hand 419 to begin the automated parking. To indicate to the Park Assist function that the parking space is on the left side of the car, the user performs this double-tap on the left half of the steering wheel rim. To indicate to the Park Assist function that the parking space is on the right side of the car, the user performs this double-tap on the right half of the steering wheel rim.

[00118] In certain embodiments of the invention, multiple touches on different touch-sensitive areas of the steering wheel are combined to form a compound gesture. Reference is made to FIGS. 20 - 26, which are simplified illustrations of multi-finger pinch and stretch gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 20 shows a compound multi-finger gesture along a steering wheel rim. In FIG. 20 two objects simultaneously move toward each other along opposing portions of steering wheel rim 410, as indicated by movement arrows 450 and 451. In certain embodiments this multi-finger gesture is interpreted as a two- finger pinch gesture on a touch screen. In certain in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems, in response to this gesture, a displayed image is zoomed out.

[00119] FIG. 21 shows a second compound multi-finger gesture along a steering wheel rim. In FIG. 21 two objects simultaneously move away from each other along opposing portions of steering wheel rim 410, as indicated by arrows 452 and 453. In certain embodiments of the invention this multi-finger gesture is interpreted as a two-finger stretch gesture on a touch screen. In certain in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems, in response to this gesture, a displayed image is zoomed in.

[00120] In certain embodiments of the invention, both objects touching the wheel need not move; the gesture is defined by the relative movement between the two objects. If one object remains in place while the other object moves, the relative movement of the two objects defines the gesture. FIG. 22 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on steering wheel 410 in which element 466 is a finger that remains at one place throughout the gesture, while a second finger moves clockwise along the steering wheel rim, as indicated by arrow 451, progressively decreasing the distance between the two fingers. This gesture is interpreted as a pinch gesture.

[00121] FIG. 23 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on steering wheel 410 in which element 466 is a finger that remains at one place throughout the gesture, while a second finger moves counterclockwise along the steering wheel rim, as indicated by arrow 453, progressively increasing the distance between the two fingers. This gesture is interpreted as a stretch gesture.

[00122] FIG. 24 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on touch pads provided on spokes of a steering wheel. In FIG. 24 two objects simultaneously move toward each other along touch pads 460 and 461 situated on opposite sides of central hub 407, as indicated by arrows 454 and 455. In certain embodiments of the invention this multi-finger gesture is interpreted as a two-finger pinch gesture on a touch screen. In certain in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems, in response to this gesture, a displayed image is zoomed out. [00123] FIG. 25 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on touch pads provided on spokes of a steering wheel. In FIG. 25 two objects simultaneously move away from each other along touch pads 460 and 461 situated on opposite sides of central hub 407, as indicated by arrows 456 and 457. In certain embodiments of the invention this multi-finger gesture is interpreted as a two-finger stretch gesture on a touch screen. In certain in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems, in response to this gesture, a displayed image is zoomed in.

[00124] In embodiments of the invention a user performs gestures on two separate areas on or around the steering wheel, and those gestures are interpreted as a single, multi-finger gesture. The multi-finger gesture is defined by the movement of the fingers in relation to each other, as in pinch gestures and rotation gestures.

[00125] FIG. 26 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on touch pads 460 and 461 on steering wheel 410. Element 467 indicates a finger that remains at one place on touch pad 461 throughout the gesture, while a second finger moves 454 across touch pad 460 toward center 407 of the wheel, progressively decreasing the distance between the two fingers. This gesture is interpreted as a pinch gesture.

[00126] Reference is made to FIGS. 27 and 28, which are simplified illustrations of multi-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 27 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on touch pads 460 and 461 on steering wheel 410. In this case both fingers move in the same direction on their respective touch pads, as indicated by arrows 454 and 455. This gesture is interpreted as a panning gesture, in response to which the user interface pans an image.

[00127] FIG. 28 shows a compound multi-finger gesture performed on touch pads 460 and 461 on steering wheel 410. In this case both fingers move in tandem tracing a curve on their respective touch pads, as indicated by arrows 458 and 459. This gesture is interpreted as a panning gesture, in response to which the user interface pans an image. The pan follows the direction of the finger movement, and is therefore not in a straight line.

[00128] Reference is made to FIGS. 29 and 30, which are simplified illustrations of one-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. FIGS. 29 and 30 show one-finger gestures performed on touch pad 460 on steering wheel 410, as indicated by respective arrows 454 and 458. Because only one finger is used, these gestures are interpreted differently than the multi-finger gestures discussed hereinabove. In some embodiments of the invention these one-finger gestures are interpreted as panning gestures, whereby the user interface pans the image at a different speed than when two-finger panning gestures are performed. In other embodiments of the invention the user interface behavior in response to these gestures is the same as to the gestures shown in FIGS. 27 and 28 in which two fingers move across different surfaces in the same direction.

[00129] Reference is made to FIGS. 31 - 34, which are simplified illustrations of multi-finger gestures, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. FIGS. 31 and 32 show compound gestures performed on touch pad 460 and on the rim of steering wheel 410. In FIGS. 31 and 32 a finger is stationary on the steering wheel rim, as indicated by element 467, while another finger performs a moving gesture on touch pad 460, as indicated by arrows 454 and 458. As explained hereinabove, the compound gesture elicits a different response from the user interface than each of the individual gestures that make up the compound gesture. Moreover, in certain cases, at least one of the compound gesture's parameters is how the two or more objects performing the gesture relate to each other. For example, whether the distance between the objects is increasing, decreasing, or remains the same, i.e., the objects move in tandem with each other.

[00130] In some cases, a compound gesture represents a combination of two or more known multi-touch gestures and the steering wheel user interface reacts by executing the multiple corresponding commands simultaneously.

[00131] FIG. 33 shows a compound gesture performed on touch pad 461 and on the rim of steering wheel 410. In FIG. 33 a finger is stationary on touch pad 461, as indicated by element 467, while another finger performs moving gesture 452 on the steering wheel rim. In these examples, the finger performing a gesture on the rim can be replaced by a hand. In certain embodiments of the invention, only finger gestures on the steering wheel rim are combined with another gesture into a compound gesture, whereas a gesture performed by a hand is not combined with another gesture into a compound gesture. Fingers and hands are distinguished from each other by their sizes as determined by the number of emitter- detector pairs that detect them.

[00132] FIG. 34 shows a compound gesture performed on touch pad 460 and on the rim of steering wheel 410. In FIG. 34 a finger is performing curved sweep gesture 458 on touch pad 460 while another finger performs counterclockwise sweep gesture 453 on the steering wheel rim.

[00133] Embodiments of the invention disclosed herein verify that the driver is gripping a steering wheel. Simply detecting that an object is gripping the steering wheel is not sufficient to determine that a driver is gripping the wheel. For example, such detection cannot distinguish a hand from an inanimate object wrapped around a portion of the steering wheel. The present invention uses the light-based proximity sensors in the steering wheel to distinguish between a human hand gripping the wheel and an inanimate object gripping the wheel by detecting two distinguishing features of a human hand: micro-movements and blood flow.

[00134] Reference is made to FIG. 35, which is a simplified illustration of micro-movements detected on a steering wheel, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Micro-movements are very small movements of the hand gripping the wheel. FIG. 35 shows hand 419 gripping wheel 410. Arrow 465 illustrates the direction of micro- movements detected by the steering wheel sensor described hereinabove in relation to FIGS. 2 - 7. These movements are miniscule, not as large as arrow 465, but they cause the steering wheel sensor detections at the edges of the hand to fluctuate in response to these movements. In some embodiments of the invention, when the driver performs large movements of his hands on the wheel, e.g., when changing his grip or when turning the wheel, these detected large movements also serve to indicate that the driver is in control of the wheel. In these embodiments, micro-movement detection is only required in the absence of large movements.

[00135] Reference is made to FIG. 36, which is a simplified illustration of blood flow through a hand, the blood flow being detected by a reflectance- based sensor, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Blood flowing through hand 419 gripping wheel 410 in FIG. 35 causes fluctuations in the steering wheel sensor detections when the skin of hand 419 is exposed to the thumb-receiving notch in steering wheel 410, based on a technique used for non-invasively monitoring oxygen saturation and pulse rate known as "reflectance-based pulse oximetry". In reflectance- based pulse oximetry, incident light is passed through the skin and is reflected off the subcutaneous tissue and bone. In the steering wheel mounted proximity sensor of the present invention, the infrared or near infrared light beams from the proximity sensor emitters pass through the skin of the driver's hand gripping the wheel and are reflected off the subcutaneous tissue and bone back to the proximity sensor light detectors. In some embodiments of the present invention, a red light is used instead of infrared or near infrared light. When the driver moves his hand on the wheel, the reflectance-based pulse oximetry signals may be unstable due to user movement. In some embodiments of the present invention, this is compensated for by signal processing by the proximity sensor controller, or by post-processing by the host processor, based on tracking the movement. In other embodiments of the present invention, blood flow is identified only when the hand gripping the wheel is not moving. When the hand gripping the wheel is moving, the tracked movement of the hand indicates that it is a human hand gripping the wheel, and blood flow is not identified.

[00136] Reference is made to FIGS. 37 - 44, which are graphs of filtered detections of blood flow inside a hand gripping a steering wheel equipped with reflectance-based sensors, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 37 is a graph of filtered detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove using a transmit current of 150 mA to activate the emitters. The detection signal was filtered with the Fourier transform and the graph shows the expected modulation in the reflected light. In some embodiments of the invention, an automatic gain control loop is used for the pulse sensing channel, as saturating the receiver would block the modulation.

[00137] Since the purpose of this detection is only to distinguish a human hand from an inanimate object, it is not necessary to detect the pulse accurately, and detection of the fundamental frequency in the detections is sufficient. In certain embodiments of the invention, a pitch detection algorithm (PDA) is used to estimate the pitch, or fundamental frequency of the detection signal. The "'harmonic product spectrum" is a pitch detection algorithm used in certain embodiments of the invention to identify the fundamental frequency in the detections.

[00138] FIG. 38 is a graph of filtered detections of a hand by the steering- wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove. The detection signal was filtered in the time domain using a 16-point averaging filter. The graph in FIG. 38 was generated by sampling only one channel detecting the hand, at a 1 kHz sample rate. In other embodiments of the invention, averaging is additionally or alternatively performed on neighboring channels within a scan sequence.

[00139] FIG. 39 is a graph of filtered detections of a hand by the steering- wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove. The detection signal was filtered twice using a 16-point averaging filter, i.e., the output of a 16-point averaging filter is filtered again with a 16-point averaging filter. The signal in FIG. 39 is cleaner than that of FIG. 38.

[00140] FIG. 40 is a graph of detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove, using infrared light emitters at a rate of 74Hz, and an over-sampling ratio of 16.

[00141] FIG. 41 is a graph of detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove, using infrared light emitters at a rate of 74 Hz, an over-sampling ratio of 16, and a 16- tap finite impulse response (FIR) filter.

[00142] FIG. 42 is a graph of detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove, using red light emitters at a rate of 74 Hz and an over-sampling ratio of 16.

[00143] FIG. 43 is a graph of detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove, using red light emitters at a rate of 74 Hz, an over-sampling ratio of 16, and a 16-tap FIR filter. FIGS. 40 - 43 show that although the visible red light provides a stronger overall signal, it provides a weaker modulation than IR light. Therefore, IR light is better than visible light for detecting blood flow.

[00144] FIG. 44 is a graph of detections of a hand by the steering-wheel mounted optical proximity sensor described hereinabove, in which the time domain signal was high-pass filtered to reject low frequency variation and then filtered again with a 32-tap FIR to smooth the waveform.

[00145] Reference is made to FIG. 45, which is a pair of graphs, namely, a top graph of detections of blood flow inside a hand gripping a steering wheel, and a bottom graph of an estimated period in the detections of the top graph, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 45 shows how to estimate a period in the signal of FIG. 41, reproduced at the top of FIG. 45, by calculating the number of samples between falling zero crossings. The estimated period is shown in the graph at the bottom of FIG. 45. The low pass variation in the signal of FIG. 41 is attenuated, but sharp changes affect the result. The remaining ripple on the estimated pulse frequency in the graph at the bottom of FIG. 45 is too high.

[00146] Reference is made to FIG. 46, which is a graph illustrating the spectrum of a pulse-detection signal, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Reference is made to FIG. 47, which is a graph illustrating modulation of a pulse-detection signal over time, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Reference is made to FIG. 48, which is a graph illustrating an estimated frequency of a pulse- detection signal, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In embodiments of the invention, this pulse detection signal is used to calculate a pulse rate of the driver.

[00147] The standards organization SAE International has released a Recommended Practice document, Standard No. J3016_201609 entitled Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles, that provides a taxonomy for motor vehicle driving automation systems that perform part or all of the dynamic driving task (DDT) on a sustained basis and that range in level from no driving automation (level 0) to full driving automation (level 5).

[00148] In general, SAE J3016 levels and definitions include:

• Level 0 - No Automation: The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems

• Level 1 - Driver Assistance: The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or

acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

• Level 2 - Partial Automation: The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

• Level 3 - Conditional Automation: The driving mode-specific

performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene

• Level 4 - High Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene

• Level 5 - Full Automation: The full-time performance by an

Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver

[00149] Particularly in Level 3, Conditional Automation, the Automated Driving System operates in accordance with the assumption that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene. In order to ensure that the driver will intervene as expected, the present invention provides systems that measure a degree of driver preparedness to intervene.

[00150] Reference is made to FIGS. 49A - 49C, which are simplified illustrations of a system for measuring driver alertness, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 49A shows steering wheel 410 provided with sensors that detect the position of hands 468 and 469 gripping the wheel. FIG. 49B shows that steering wheel 410 also includes illuminators, such as illuminators 470 and 471 along the perimeter of steering wheel 410. Based on the current location of the driver's hands on steering wheel 410, the system illuminates one or more locations separate from the driver's hands and prompts the driver to touch the illuminated portions. The prompt is, for example, an audio or visual prompt. FIG. 49C shows that a degree of driver preparedness is derived based on the amount of time it takes the driver to touch the illuminated portions of steering wheel 410. The degree of driver preparedness is also derived based on how close the driver's touch is to the illumination. In some embodiments of the invention, the illumination is generated at a midpoint between the driver's hands on steering wheel 410, and the system determines the driver's handedness based on which hand was used to touch the illumination. In some embodiments of the invention, when the sensors in steering wheel 410 detect that the driver is not currently gripping steering wheel 410, the system prompts the driver to grip steering wheel 410 prior to illuminating portions of steering wheel 410.

[00151] In another embodiment of the invention, a system for measuring a degree of driver preparedness uses a touch screen in the dashboard or elsewhere in the vehicle, instead of steering wheel 410, to measure reaction time. In this case, a location on the touch screen is indicated for the driver to touch and the time it takes the driver to touch the screen location indicates the degree of driver preparedness. [00152] In some embodiments, the system for measuring a degree of driver preparedness is activated when the Automated Driving System predicts a likelihood that driver intervention will be required soon. This typically occurs when driving conditions change; e.g., the car navigation system instructs the car to exit the highway, it has begun to rain, or the sun is setting and it is getting dark.

[00153] In some cases, the Automated Driving System requires a minimum degree of driver preparedness to proceed. If driver preparedness is below this threshold, the Automated Driving System reacts defensively, e.g., by increasing the distance to other vehicles on the road, by reducing vehicle speed, or by navigating the vehicle to a location where it parks the car. The Automated Driving System then resumes its previous course when driver preparedness increases. Similarly, the Automated Driving System uses the degree of driver preparedness to adapt driving parameters to the driver's abilities. E.g., the Automated Driving System drives defensively for a driver whose preparedness scores are consistently low, e.g., by increasing the distance to other vehicles on the road and reducing vehicle speed. Sometimes, a low reaction time is due to the driver not noticing the illumination. Therefore, in some cases, the illumination color or intensity is modified to catch the driver's attention. Blinking the illumination is also useful for catching the driver's attention.

[00154] Reference is made to FIG. 50, which is a simplified illustration of a gesture for starting a vehicle, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 50 shows a gesture for starting a vehicle engine for vehicles that include an array of sensors along the perimeter of the steering wheel grip. The gesture of FIG. 50 involves the user's hands 468, 469 sliding 472, 473 along the grip around the steering wheel 410. In some cases, the gesture is performed symmetrically by both hands simultaneously, each hand performing an extended slide gesture along a different half of the steering wheel grip. For example, the left hand slides downward along the left half of the grip, while the right hand slides downward along the right half of the grip. In other embodiments, this gesture is used for activating functions other than starting the engine.

[00155] The gesture of FIG. 50 has several benefits. By performing the gesture across the entire steering wheel grip, all sensors in the grip are tested, ensuring that all sensors are working properly each time the car is started. The vehicle generates an error state when not all locations along the length of the grip detect touch.

[00156] Furthermore, since the sensor is reflection-based, when the driver wears gloves the sensor detects different amounts of light than when the driver is not wearing gloves. Also, even without gloves, different skin tones reflect different amounts of light. Requiring the driver to perform this extended slide gesture when starting the vehicle, provides an opportunity to calibrate the sensors for the current driver's hands when this extended gesture is performed. In addition, the extended slide gesture wipes away dirt and dust from the grip that would interfere with the steering wheel touch sensor.

[00157] Reference is made to FIGS. 51A, 51B, 52 and 53, which are simplified illustrations of systems with duplicated touch sensors, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIGS. 51A and 51B show a first embodiment of a duplicated sensor system for touch pad controls. FIG. 51A shows touch pads 460 and 461 in steering wheel 410. Use of these pads is discussed hereinabove with reference to FIGS. 24 - 34. FIG. 51B shows two sensors 474 and 475 placed along different edges of pad 460, each sensor 474 and 475 providing independent touch and gesture detection on pad 460. Resistive and capacitive sensors require a film or layer on the touch surface, which precludes providing two independent resistive or capacitive sensors on the same area or on a steering wheel grip. In contrast, the reflection-based sensors or the subject invention are useful for providing multiple independent sensors for the same area. Thus, for example, a touch pad or steering wheel is covered with a capacitive sensor, and in addition, a reflectance based sensor provides a second sensor thereon. In other embodiments, two or more reflectance-based sensors provide duplicate sensing to the same area by placing different sensors along different edges of the area, enabling up to four independent reflectance-based sensors detecting touch and gestures on any rectangular area.

[00158] Alternatively the different reflectance-based sensors are stacked one above the other on a common edge of the detection area. In this case, the different sensors detect objects in adjacent detection planes, but all sensors will detect gestures and touches on the touch pad.

[00159] FIG. 52 shows a second embodiment of a duplicated sensor system. In this embodiment the emitters and detectors of two reflectance- based sensors are interleaved. FIG. 52 illustrates this duplicated sensor system in a section of a steering wheel grip. FIG. 52 shows emitter beams 605 from a first of the two sensors, and emitter beam 606 from the second of the two sensors. In this configuration of interleaved sensor components, both sensors detect objects in the same plane. Each sensor is controlled by a respective one of CPUs 476, 477. Steering wheel frame 411, top cover 412, thumb-notch 413, PCB 414, and transparent cover sections 416 and 417 are described hereinabove with reference to FIGS. 2 - 9.

[00160] FIG. 53 shows interleaved emitters and detectors of two sensors in a duplicated sensor system. FIG. 53 illustrates a duplicated sensor system in a one-dimensional sensor array 474. Each sensor is controlled by a respective one of processors 476, 477. Every other emitter, together with its right-neighbor detector belongs to a first of the sensors and the remaining emitters and detectors belong to the other sensor; i.e., even- numbered emitters and detectors 110, 210, 112, 212, 118, 218, are controlled by CPU 476 and odd-numbered emitters and detectors 111, 211, 113, 213, 119, 219, are controlled by CPU 477. Lenses 310 - 319 direct light from the emitters out of sensor array 474 and direct object reflections onto the detectors, as explained hereinabove with reference to FIG. 8. Other arrangements are also within the scope of the invention, such as placing two detectors between every two emitters, whereby every other emitter, together with one of its right-neighbor detectors and one of its left-neighbor detectors, belongs to a first of the sensors and the remaining emitters and detectors belong to the other sensor.

[00161] In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments thereof. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes may be made to the specific exemplary embodiments without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, sensors other than optical sensors may be used to detect the user interface gestures, inter alia capacitive sensors disposed along the circumference of the steering wheel, and cameras that capture images of the steering wheel. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.