Caterpillar Offers New System To Help Combat Driver Fatigue
Developed for the mining industry, it tracks drivers' eyes and uses an audio alert and a vibrating seat to wake them if necessary. In tests, it outperformed other systems that required the drivers to wear special equipment.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Australia-based Seeing Machines has designed a system called Driver Safety Solution (DSS) that Caterpillar will offer to mining companies to help them manage operator fatigue. It works by tracking the driver's eyes and facial features in order to detect instances of micro-sleep, periods "when a person passes out for...up to half a minute [and] then wakes up again without realising they lost consciousness." If the driver falls asleep, DSS sounds an alarm and activates a vibrating motor in the seat. All components, including the computer mounted behind the seat, are designed to withstand the unique conditions associated with driving mining trucks. Tests conducted at one Nevada site indicated a 90 percent reduction in incidents.
What's the Big Idea?
Fatigue is a huge problem for trucking worldwide, contributing to numerous crashes every year. In addition, according to University of Michigan expert Daniel Blower, "the true incidence of fatigue in truck crashes is likely to be two to three times higher than in the captured crash data." DSS is one of several products designed to combat driver sleepiness. Another monitors steering movements, while still another uses scanners along roads to ensure that trucks stay on path.
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