ASU professor aims to put brakes on distracted driving with artificial intelligence

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

ASU is trying to put the brakes on distracted driving with artificial intelligence. One researcher wants to put a "virtual mom," of sorts, in the passenger seat. 

A simple turn of an ignition can get us from Point A to Point B. But it can also change lives. 

"It was a trauma for all of us, but she suffered beyond anybody's expectation," said Dr. Ashraf Gaffar.

Two years ago, his daughter was hit by a distracted driver.

"Still, today, I am really traumatized when I think of this accident," said Gaffar. His daughter has recovered, but the ordeal became a calling that led him to invest his own money in creating artificial intelligence software at ASU. 

[RELATED: New cars increasingly crammed with distracting technology]

"I said, it's no really worth waiting," Gaffar said. "I got a bank loan and I started paying for this and other things to get the thing done."

His system will learn drivers' behavior and warn of distracted driving or fatigue.

"That's what I call that the 'AI mom,' sitting next to you, like, 'Hey, did you do that? Don't do that again,'" Gaffar said.

It could even go as far as to force an impaired driver to pull over.

Gaffar said he won't wait for self-driving cars to become the norm. To get this on the road, they need another 400 hours of test driving and plenty of volunteers to build a robust prototype. They hope to have that done by April. 

"Most of the cars today is what I call a computer on wheels, so everything in the car already runs on computer so all we have to do is add more software," Gaffar said.

Gaffar wants his "A-I mom" to be downloaded, inexpensively, in many cars already on the road.

"When we can save one more life for a little bit extra money, it's not really, you don't need to think twice about it," Gaffar said.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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