Mitsubishi Electric says it has developed a technology to detect absent-mindedness and other cognitive distractions in drivers when their vehicles are travelling straight, using a type of machine-learning algorithm known as deep learning.

Announcing the development at the Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi noted although systems exist to detect drivers who are visually distracted due to drowsiness or inattentiveness, the detection of cognitive distractions has been difficult because symptoms sometimes appear in a driver's behaviour or biological patterns, rather than in their face or eye movements.

The supplier says its technology uses a machine-learning algorithm to analyse time-series data, including information about the vehicle (steering for example) and driver (heart rate, facial orientation, etc), to detect and warn drivers about potentially dangerous indications.