Heavy equipment provider Caterpillar is bringing biometric technology to its trucks to monitor drivers’ fatigue levels.
It’s an initiative of Caterpillar Safety Services, a consultancy arm of Caterpillar, which has teamed up with Seeing Machines, the company that providing the biometric technology. Caterpillar’s trucks can weigh over 400 tonnes, and operate in potentially dangerous settings such as mining operations, which can be in operation on a 24-hour clock. Drivers are often working against their natural internal clocks, and if their fatigue can have dangerous and potentially fatal consequences if they fall asleep behind the wheel.
That’s where Seeing Machines’ technology comes in. An integrated camera, light, and speaker system, embedded in the cockpit of a given vehicle, is able to track signs of microsleep—extremely brief instances of loss of consciousness associated with fatigue. When such signs are detected, the system automatically alerts a command center at Caterpillar headquarters so that an agent can get in follow up with the driver in question and any other personnel as appropriate.
It’s a unique application of biometric technology but not unheard-of; Harman International Industries, for example, announced in January a pupil-based biometric fatigue detection system for drivers, and in 2014 Fujitsu filed a patent for a steering wheel electrode system that could monitor the alertness of drivers, with potential applications in trucking. These systems help to illustrate the variety in the uses of biometric technology, with Caterpillar’s deployment highlighting the technology increasingly mainstream deployment.
July 13, 2016 – by Alex Perala