An orientation sensor-based head tracking system for driver behaviour monitoring

Yifan Zhao, Lorenz Görne, Iek Man Yuen, Dongpu Cao, Mark Sullman, Daniel Auger, Chen Lv, Huaji Wang, Rebecca Matthias, Lee Skrypchuk, Alexandros Mouzakitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Although at present legislation does not allow drivers in a Level 3 autonomous vehicle to engage in a secondary task, there may become a time when it does. Monitoring the behaviour of drivers engaging in various non-driving activities (NDAs) is crucial to decide how well the driver will be able to take over control of the vehicle. One limitation of the commonly used face-based head tracking system, using cameras, is that sufficient features of the face must be visible, which limits the detectable angle of head movement and thereby measurable NDAs, unless multiple cameras are used. This paper proposes a novel orientation sensor based head tracking system that includes twin devices, one of which measures the movement of the vehicle while the other measures the absolute movement of the head. Measurement error in the shaking and nodding axes were less than 0.4°, while error in the rolling axis was less than 2°. Comparison with a camera-based system, through in-house tests and on-road tests, showed that the main advantage of the proposed system is the ability to detect angles larger than 20° in the shaking and nodding axes. Finally, a case study demonstrated that the measurement of the shaking and nodding angles, produced from the proposed system, can effectively characterise the drivers’ behaviour while engaged in the NDAs of chatting to a passenger and playing on a smartphone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2692
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention level
  • Autonomous driving
  • Computer vision
  • Non-driving activities


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