Heart rate variability for driver sleepiness assessment

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för medicinsk teknik

Abstract: Studies have reported that around 20 % of all traffic accidents are caused by a sleepy driver. Sleepy driving has been compared to drunk driving. A sleepy driver is also an issue in the case of automated vehicles in the future. Handing back the control of the vehicle to a sleepy driver is a serious risk. This has increased the need for a sleepiness estimation system that can be used in the car to warn the driver when driving is not recommended. One commonly used method to estimate sleepiness is to study the heart rate variability, HRV, which is said to reflect the activity of the autonomous nervous system, the ANS. The HRV can be expressed through different measures obtained from a signal of RR-intervals. The aim with the thesis is to investigate how well the HRV translates into sleepiness estimation and how the experimental setup might affect the results. In this study, HRV data from 85 sleep deprived drivers was collected together with the drivers’ own ratings of their sleepiness according to the nine graded Karolinska sleepiness scale, KSS. An ANOVA test showed statistical significance for almost all of the used HRV measures when the Driver ID was set as random variable. In order to reduce the number of HRV measures, a feature selection step was performed before training a Support Vector Machine (SVM) used for classification of the data. SVM classifiers are trained to use the input features describing the data to optimize hyperplanes separating the discrete set of classes. Previous research has shown good results in using HRV for sleepiness detection, but common issues are the small data sets used and that most experiments are performed in a simulator instead of at real roads. In some cases, no sleep deprivation is used. The result from the classification in this study is a mean accuracy of around 58-59 %, mean sensitivity of 50-51 %, mean specificity of 75-76 % and mean F1 score of 50-51 % over the three classes ’Alert’, ’Getting sleepy’ and ’Sleepy’. This together with the results of the ANOVA test shows that the HRV measures performed relatively poor when used for classification of the data and that there are large inter-individual differences. This suggests the use of personalized algorithms when developing a sleepiness estimation system and an investigation regarding how other confounding factors could affect the estimation is also motivated.

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