By on December 8, 2015


General Motors this month filed a patent application for a navigation system that can gauge how effective it is in frustrating guiding drivers based on their eye movements and how well those drivers follow directions.

The patent application filed Dec. 3 details a navigation system that watches “visual focus, the driver vocalizations and the driver emotions, along with vehicle system parameters from a data bus … to evaluate driver satisfaction with navigation guidance and determine driver behavior.”

“You missed our last turn, Aaron.”

I know, OnStar. We’re going off course.

“I don’t like how that sounds, Aaron.”

Take me to the nearest hole in the desert, OnStar. 

According to the patent application, the system would use a driver-faced camera to track eye movement to see if the driver was paying attention to the road, looking elsewhere in the car or frantically searching for the nearest road sign.

Simultaneously, the system would use a forward-facing camera from the car to read nearby road signs to see if the driver’s eye movement picked up the last sign.

The systems would stitch together whether the driver was comfortable or hopelessly lost, and serve new directions appropriately.

The navigation system would also monitor the driver’s speech, perspiration and heart rate to determine just how pissed off you are now that you’re lost for the second time on the same stretch of road that it told you had construction, but clearly there’s no construction on this road.

Seriously, OnStar. You do this to me all the time!

Thankfully, the patent application also details a location-based “promotional offers for businesses near a destination or route of the driver,” to offer you a cookie at a nearby Arby’s to forget that it ever got you lost in the first place.

We reached out to General Motors for comment on the patent application but HAL can’t be bothered right now.

H/T to Bozi for the heads up. 

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36 Comments on “General Motors Filed a Patent Application for a Navigation System That Knows When You Hate It...”

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Is that you?

  • avatar

    There really is a relevant xkcd for everything.

  • avatar

    “to offer you a cookie at a nearby Arby’s to forget that it ever got you lost in the first place.”

    The new 2017 FWD Chevy Trax, with OnStar Insulin+ generation III.

  • avatar

    “promotional offers for businesses near a destination or route of the driver,”

    This is the REAL reason this is being developed, everything else is secondary. Why sir, there’s a $500 navigation credit this month, if you check this box to allow third party advertisers to contact you forever.

    NO NO NO, this is worse than Flo’s tracking nanny box.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If this system had been in my Leaf, Nissan would have gotten a lot of negative feedback. It was the first built-in nav I’ve had in a car, and it was terrible.

  • avatar

    But can it sing “Daisy”?

  • avatar

    Even the best in-dash navigation system is pure garbage compared to Waze or Google Maps on my smartphone.

    • 0 avatar

      Then you haven’t used a good navigation system. Once Google Maps/Waze can: use the car’s vastly superior GPS receiver; pipe navigation information to my HUD and my MID; not display ads; not show cutesy icons; and do it all silently; then we can talk.

      Those apps are only useful for greater traffic coverage (which nav systems are remedying) and cop/speed trap position reports.

      • 0 avatar

        Google Maps is better at voice recognition and finding what you want quickly. I’ve used Google Maps to get an address for a business. Trying to find the right Detroit area Jet’s Pizza location with most in car nav systems will end up with me driving the car into a ditch and setting it on fire.

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, that makes sense. Mine supports Google voice searches, so I only manually enter in addresses (and lots of times not even then).

          • 0 avatar

            Is that the Audi system? I like how they integrated Google in there. I haven’t messed with it much. Just a few hours in an A7.

            The Ford system is REALLY good at addresses and not great at business names. Many systems are worse at both.

            I think your points about Google Maps is spot on though. If I could have Google Maps, or similar, as an integrated app in my car’s infotainment system, I would like that. Using the car’s GPS, having no ads, and running like my current nav would be a must.

      • 0 avatar

        A typical new smartphone GPS receiver can provide 6 meter accuracy which is more than sufficient for navigation.

        “Only” useful for traffic and cop/speed trap reporting? That’s a HUGE advantage.

        Here’s a few more things Google Maps can do, all of which are supremely useful:
        – Provide a dynamic ETA, it updates as traffic conditions update
        – Dynamically use alternate routes based on traffic, accidents, etc while you’re driving. I’ve had my bacon saved commuting when Google Maps finds that an accident occurs and then uses real time traffic data to route me to work on a faster path.
        – Respond to fuzzy voice search commands: “navigate to the nearest McDonalds” or “show me a map of XYZ City”
        – Respond to commands while driving like “mute”/”unmute” or “what’s my next turn” or “when will I arrive”
        – Have current up-to-date maps. Near me an interchange between two major highways was completed. Google maps had this data the same day.

        This is just what Google Maps does TODAY. Imagine what new features/content Google will roll out next month, week, year, etc. Your car nav system is limited to how often you buy a new car.

        BTW Android Auto will provide the in-dash look and feel for you. Missed the boat on that awesomeness by one year with my Silverado (maybe I can get an upgrade for my ’15?). Google Maps can operate silently right now. Just mute it.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, in GM products (well at least in the G8 but given the Continental OnStar boxes are used over a wide range of models) you can connect via Bluetooth to the in-car GPS receiver. The fidelity is better.

        That would be on a 2009.5 G8, or if you did the OnStar hack to upgrade the box.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The main thing Google, etc, is good at and others are not is in allowing you to chose between several different ways to reach the same place. There are a lot of instances where one way is 12.7 miles and one is 13.0 miles, but 13.0 is a much better route for whatever reason, or just more desirable that day (I need gas on the way, it’s a bad time for traffic on the other road, whatever). Yes, some cars have an “avoid route” option, but it’s clunky, versus Google’s “drag the line over to a different road” method.

  • avatar

    “to offer you a cookie at a nearby Arby’s to forget that it ever got you lost in the first place.”

    My Arbys quit doing that +15 years ago!

    Otherwise this patent seems needless, if you just design a decent GPS unit you wont have to worry about “frustration detectors”, odds are its the slow Buick ahead making the driver bitter.

  • avatar

    Can the GM system understand the significance of an upthrust middle digit or the voice command, “F— you very much”?

  • avatar

    Promotional offers through your nav system. For those who find that they aren’t seeing enough ads elsewhere.

  • avatar

    A few years ago wandering up the coast of California our GPS adamantly refused to admit that Hwy 1 existed and was not a dead end. Finally had to turn it off as it kept screaming at me to turn around and take a cut off to 101. Looking forward to the car that will basically just ram it in reverse when I refuse to take its’ guidance.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had people tell me that their in-vehicle NAV system got suicidal on them, directing them to make turns into on-coming traffic.

      We’ve never used the NAV system that came with our vehicles, relying instead on a portable GPS system like a Garmin, Magellan or Tom-Tom.

      We have all three in use by different drivers. On top of that, we have the systems in my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S5, and before that, in her Apple iPhone5.

      There’s something to be said for being able to take your NAV system and carry it with you in your pocket or purse.

  • avatar

    1) Check out YouTube: “Eleven!” the voice activated elevator. Do this at work only if suppressed laughter will not cause a problem.

    2) Coming up on 40 years of driving now, still have not used a GPS. I find that my PGS is superior: never runs out of power, doesn’t get stolen, provides contextual directions rather than a stream of “now turn right, now turn right, now turn right, now turn right” instructions. What’s PGS? Paper Geographic System… a MAP.

  • avatar

    Many posters here have argued at length about the numbing and dumbing of drivers by the inexorable march of auto tech, from automatic transmissions to ABS to ESC, but I maintain that the most serious abdication of drivers’ accountability is the use of a nav system. How can you claim to be in control of the vehicle if you don’t know where you’re going, if you’ve surrendered the most basic aspect of travel to a disembodied voice that can’t see what you can? I know that I’m an old fart that doesn’t even own a smart phone, but come on, don’t you know where you’re trying to get to when you get in the car? And if you’re going somewhere foreign, why wouldn’t you look up the destination before you leave?

    • 0 avatar

      >but come on, don’t you know where you’re trying to get to when you get in the car?

      Where we’re trying to get to, yes. The best way to get there–that may change en route. Whenever I go anywhere with my father, it seems like we always end up somewhere idiotic like I-94 just outside St. Paul at 5:00 on Friday before the 4th of July, and it’s then that a smartphone or other nav device can tell you the absolute quickest way to get off the main road.

      • 0 avatar

        I suppose if I drove a lot in a place like L.A. I would have to have Waze at hand, but whenever I cross Chicagoland or head out of state, I check traffic online just before I shove off to see if something unexpected has happened, and I can catch a live traffic report on the radio every 10 minutes once I’m rolling.

        • 0 avatar

          Not to say your method is wrong, but it wouldn’t have worked in the aforementioned situation. We had been driving since noon from the Madison, WI area, and any radio traffic reports would’ve just said, “hey hey, it’s bumper-to-bumper all the way to St. Cloud, back to you, Mike!”

          It was our own lack of foresight that we didn’t immediately find the quickest route onto Hwy 10 as soon as we got into MN.

    • 0 avatar

      Do not surrender but enhance and augment.

      I especially like in car nav for long trips. It gives me an estimated time to get to my destination (that I can race against!), and it can help me in re-route situations. I know where I am going, but having a 8″ moving map in my vehicle is helpful when I-75 is $hit north of the US-10 split or on either side of I-475 in Flint.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet that if you put a piece of tape over the little compass readout on my mirror, and asked me at random times while driving what direction I am heading, I would outperform 99% of GPS-addicted millennials.

      If you learn how to read maps and place yourself on the surface of the earth in relation to the origin and destination of your trip, getting lost becomes a temporary item. If I know that my destination is northwest of me, and I am heading north, I know it’s off to my left. If I miss a turn, or a road is closed, or turns out to be one way the wrong way, I can still understand where I am.

      If you want to drive like a trained monkey (now left! now right! now left! now right!) GPS is definitely the tool.

      “Hold on, hold, never mind about the distance; whereabouts does the castle lie? what’s the direction from here?”

      “Ah, please you sir, it hath no direction from here; by reason that the road lieth not straight, but turneth evermore; wherefore the direction of its place abideth not, but is sometime under the one sky and anon under another, whereso if ye be minded that it is in the east, and wend thitherward, ye shall observe that the way of the road doth yet again turn upon itself by the space of half a circle, and the marvel happing again and yet again and still again, it will grive you that you had thought by vanities of the mind to thwart and bring to naught the will of Him that giveth not a castle a direction from a place except it pleaseth Him, and if it please Him not, will the rather that even all castles and all directions thereunto vanish out of the earth, leaving the places wherein they tarried desolate and vacant, so warning His creatures that where He will He will, and where He will not He – ”

      “Oh, that’s all right, that’s all right, give us a rest; never mind about the direction, hang the direction…have you got such a thing as a map of the region about you? Now a good map -”

      “Is it peradventure that manner of thing which of late the unbelievers have brought from over the great seas, which, being boiled in oil, and an onion and salt added thereto, doth – ?”

    • 0 avatar

      Ever try to read street signs in a strange place at night? Ever need to see if you’ve missed a sign and need to find your way back?

      Having a computer (whether in car, phone, or on dash) is MUCH safer

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, and yes, but I’ve always managed to find my destination, although I will admit that my wife lacks my sense of adventure which has, at times, led to in-car disputes. But in this day of cell phones, a quick call will usually solve any problems encountered that can’t be resolved by a second look.

        And yes, the car would be much safer in the garage, but that’s not what a car is for.

    • 0 avatar

      Thing is, even if you whip out the most recent Rand McNally before you hit the road, the nav app can help with the unexpected. Traffic has already been mentioned, but unexpected detours are another situation.

      I was headed up I-65 toward Chicago earlier this year when the northbound lanes were detoured due to a bridge failure. The posted detour took you miles out of the way, presumably to route truck traffic away from the small towns on the main highway. But Waze knew a shortcut that knocked 20 minutes off the official route. That’s not insignificant.

  • avatar

    Monitors eye movements okay…… perspiration? and what algorithm will accurately put that one to use? Is it tied into the AC and internal vehicle temperature? Heart rate…from where and how?

    That black box data will be real fun to apply in court post crash.

    Considering GM’s ignition switch engineering……… is there an off switch?

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