Mazda Motor is planning to start sales next year of cars capable of detecting when the driver suddenly falls asleep or ill at the wheel and automatically stopping.
The driver monitoring system tracks eye movements and head position with a camera equipped inside the cabin.
When it senses the driver is falling asleep or suddenly becoming unconscious, it first alerts the driver with an alarm tone.
If the driver does not respond, the system activates the horn and flashes the hazard lights to warn other vehicles. At the same time, the system switches to autonomous driving to gradually slow the car down and bring it to a halt.
Honda Motor has already introduced a similar system in some models, while Hino Motors is starting to equip its buses with such technology.
Mazda is also developing a system that can detect early signs of a driver becoming unconscious by studying the direction of the gaze.