Face Tracking Could Keep Truck Drivers From Sleeping

on Jun 04, 2013
Face Tracking Could Keep Truck Drivers From Sleeping

A new technology designed to keep drivers safe by using eye- and face-tracking technology to determine when a driver is sleeping is going to soon be offered by Caterpillar. The technology is called Driver Safety Solution and it consists of a camera that tracks a driver’s eye behavior, which includes pupil size and blink frequency and where the driver’s mouth is located.

A new technology can help to keep drivers awake and safe while on the road.

When the technology senses something weird, like the driver potentially falling asleep or looking away from the road, an alarm is activated and the seat vibrates to bring back focus. It’s an infrared camera in the truck cab that allows the camera to analyze the driver’s eyes both through glasses and in the dark.

One of the biggest differences between DSS and other systems comes when looking at what’s called microsleep. Microsleep is a very short sleep period that only lasts a few seconds. Often, going into a microsleep period wouldn’t even be remembered by the individual. With DSS, support staff has access to video footage in order to track moments like this.

Driver fatigue is a big problem that Seeing Machines, the firm that developed the technology, is looking to combat. A pilot study is showing that the technology works. Newmont Mining, a Colorado-based gold producer, told the BBC that DSS reduced accidents due to driver fatigue by as much as 90 percent.

Caterpillar has put together data showing that drowsy commercial truck drivers cause 1,200 deaths and 76,000 injuries per year on U.S. highways. With this new technology, those numbers could be reduced drastically.

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