Courtesy Seeing Machines
Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction mining equipment, will start selling eye- and face-tracking technology to keep sleepy truck drivers from getting into accidents.
Driver Safety Solution consists of a camera that tracks a driver’s eye behavior, including pupil size and blink frequency, and where their mouth is located. When it senses the driver has fallen asleep or is looking away from the road and not paying attention, it activates audio alarms and seat vibrations to bring their focus back. An infrared camera in the truck cab allows the camera to analyze a driver’s eyes through glasses or in the dark.
If DSS senses a driver has entered microsleep, a short sleep period that only lasts a few seconds, it will also alert support staff, who will have access to video footage of the driver’s eyes and data about their behavior from a GPS and accelerometer in the truck. Often people don’t even realize they fell asleep after experiencing a microsleep, making it especially dangerous for drivers.
The firm that developed the technology, Seeing Machines, is one of many companies looking to combat “>driver fatigue. Unlike similar systems, DSS doesn’t require the driver to wear special glasses, and doesn’t need to be calibrated for each new driver.
Newmont Mining, a Colorado-based gold producer, told the BBC that Driver Safety Solution reduced accidents due to driver fatigue by as much as 90 percent in a pilot study. According to Caterpillar’s data, drowsy commercial truck drivers cause 1,200 deaths and 76,000 injuries a year on U.S. highways. In the surface mining industry, fatigued driving causes up to 65 percent of accidents.
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