Face and eye-tracking technology is the newest trend in accident preventation. This innovative tech gear is currently being mass produced by the world’s bigest mining equipment maker, hoping that the technology will prevent accidents caused by fatigue.
Catepillar recently announced plans to sell packages of sensors, software, and alarms that detech when a truck driver may be fatigued and near sleep. According to the BBC, BHP Billiton and Newmont Mining have already carried out their own trials with this technology, and Catepillar is now following in their footsteps. Each of the firms believes the new software system out-performs the previous systems that required workers to wear bulky equipment.
Similarly, the new technology is also rating better than the old, because it does not need to be recalibrated when one worker swaps shifts with another. The developer of this product, the Australian company, Seeing Machines, was able to secure the partnership with Caterpillar, and beat out 21 other rival technologies. To install this type of software onto a vehicle, it will cost around $20,000, althought bulk discounts are avaliable.
The research firm Parker Bay estimated an approxiamate 40,000 active mining trucks in service at the end of 2012. So, this technology, if adopted, could potentially make huge improvements in driving safety and accident prevention.
How Does it Work?
This new technology uses a camera to detect a driver’s pupil size. The camera then calculates how often the person blinks, and for how long their eyes are shut during a blink. Similarly, the cameras track where the driver’s mouth is in order to make sense of when the driver is actually looking at the roadway.
In order to help with identification of these features, truck cabs are all fitted with a small infrared lamp. The light is invisible to humans, but allows the camera to see in the dark and through an employee’s safety glasses or sun glasses.
Furthermore, a GPS chip and accelerometer are installed into the truck to confirm the truck is being driver, and the data is processed by a small computer mounted behind the driver’s seat, which is equipped to work through dust and intense vibrations.
The aim of the system is simply to detect the onset of micro-sleep periods. These periods take place when a person passes out for anywhere from a fraction of a second to up to a minute, and then wakes up completely unaware for their loss of consciousness.
If the software has indeed found a driver in a micro-sleep, it triggers an audio alarm and vibrates a built in driver’s seat motor. Similarly, an immediate alert is sent back to the miner’s support staff who can view a streamed video feed of the driver’s eyes and track their recent behavior.
According to Caterpillar, the biggest cause of accidents in the mining industry is fatigue. So, they are impressed with a first round of study results that showed that the new system reduces fatigue-related incidents by nearly 90%.
These technoligical updates, if implemented across the trucking industry, would be a huge step towards accident preventation and improved driver safety for our roadways. We applaud companies like Caterpillar, concerned about accident preventation and the safety of all motorists. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an large truck accident that was the result of a trucker’s fatigue, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Fatigue, as shown above, is preventable and trackable. You should not have to suffer or be a victim to this negligence. For a free, no obligation talk with a Missouri truck and semi-truck crash lawyer, call 314.409.7060 or 855.40.CRASH today. We will do the hard work for you, while you recover from your devastating crash.