With 2020 behind us, the DADSS Research Program is looking forward to the year ahead as we continue the important work of developing life-saving vehicle–integrated alcohol detection technologies.
Below is a snapshot of what’s ahead for refinement of the breath and touch technologies, the planned resumption of our human subject testing, and continued activities to increase consumer awareness, acceptance and demand.
The Breath System
The breath system has reached an important milestone, and plans are in the works to begin commercial licensing the current GEN 3.3 system in late 2021 for use by fleets implementing a zero–tolerance alcohol policy for their drivers. This means DADSS technologies be on the road in higher quantities than ever before, and that engineers will have significantly more data to analyze – data that will be key to evolving the sensors into a next-generation GEN 4.0 system. This GEN 4.0 system is designed to be smaller and more easily integrated into passenger vehicles and will be the version that will be made available for installation in consumers’ passenger vehicles, likely by 2024.
Modeling of this system is already showing great results, and development efforts will continue in 2021 to ensure the system can attain the highest levels of consistent accuracy, precision and reliability needed before it is made available to the general public.
Manufacturing partners are already lined up for low-volume capacity to support commercialization of the GEN 3.3 systems in 2021, with high-volume capacity to follow in 2023.
The Touch System
The touch technology continues to progress, as program engineers focus on making improvements to the electronic system and integrating upgraded optics so the sensors will be faster, cheaper and use less power – which are all key to commercialization. In 2021, DADSS researchers will continue working with the program’s laser provider, Sensalight, to further reduce the size of the current touch system, which has already been successfully reduced by 89%. DADSS researchers hope to integrate next-generation touch sensors into test vehicles, which will follow with additional human subject testing.
Additional pilot deployments are possible either through our existing state partnerships or other public and private entities to support wider deployment of test vehicles across the U.S.
After successfully completing on-road and human subject testing for the GEN 3.2 breath sensors, program engineers will be retrofitting the new GEN 3.3 breath sensors into vehicles for a fresh round of human subject testing, which is scheduled to begin in Summer 2021. As the touch technology continues to progress, researchers hope to integrate next-generation touch sensors into test vehicles, which will follow with additional human subject testing.
Testing for the DADSS program is conducted in two ways. The first is human subjects testing – where humans are “dosed” with alcohol in a safe, tightly controlled environment at the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital. The second is human subjects driving – where sober drivers are mixed with “dosed” passengers in a natural vehicle environment to ensure the sensors accurately distinguish between drivers and passengers.
Both tests are equally important to ensuring the sensors operate with the highest levels of accuracy, precision and reliability before they can be made available to the general public.
State Partnerships & Consumer Awareness, Acceptance & Demand
While program managers continue their work, partnerships like the Driven to Protect Initiative will continue increasing consumer awareness, acceptance and demand for the technology. In 2020, the program launched a new Discovery Hub – a suite of online resources to provide a virtual, in-depth look at the technology and the development process. The Discovery Hub, now live, also has educational modules and videos designed to educate the public about the dangers of alcohol impaired driving.
While in-person events are expected to be somewhat limited in 2021 due to the pandemic, more exciting content will be added to the Discovery Hub, along with additional Ask the Experts webinars for the public to learn more about DADSS technologies. Stay tuned to dadss.org for more specific dates about these activities, and if you haven’t checked out the Discovery Hub, we invite you to do so by clicking here.