Dutch bus drivers to test fatigue warning tech (Update)

Dec 10, 2013 by Toby Sterling
In this handout photo provided by Royal Beuk BV in Noordwijk, Netherlands on Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013 a computer display shows how infrared lights map the face and eye positions of a bus driver using a fatigue monitoring system. A Dutch luxury bus company is helping introduce a monitoring technology that has been gaining ground in the mining industry. Royal Beuk BV said Tuesday it is outfitting 20 vehicles from five bus companies with a system designed by Australian company Seeing Machines. It uses infrared lights and a camera to register eye movements for signs a driver may be close to nodding off, and sounds an alarm. (AP Photo/Royal Beuk BV)

A Dutch luxury bus company is testing technology that monitors whether a driver is becoming drowsy.

Royal Beuk BV said Tuesday it is outfitting 20 vehicles from six different charter vacation bus lines with a system designed by Australian company Seeing Machines.

It uses infrared light and a camera to register eye movements to see whether a driver's gaze is distracted from the road for too long, or if he is blinking progressively more slowly—signs he may be close to nodding off.

If the system's software algorithms determine there's a problem, it will first sound an alarm for the driver. Further alarms will pull in human assistance or intervention

"What we see is that drivers learn very quickly not to be distracted from the road," Ken Kroeger, the CEO of Seeing Machines, said in a telephone interview. "However, you can't train someone to not be tired."

Other technologies with a similar goal are on the market.

Mercedes and Volvo have both introduced automobile systems that measure drowsiness by analyzing steering wheel movements, while Ford uses cameras to check whether a car is drifting out of its lane.

In this handout photo provided by Royal Beuk BV in Noordwijk, Netherlands on Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013 an engineer outfits a bus with a fatigue monitoring system. A Dutch luxury bus company is helping introduce a monitoring technology that has been gaining ground in the mining industry. Royal Beuk BV said Tuesday it is outfitting 20 vehicles from five bus companies with a system designed by Australian company Seeing Machines. It uses infrared lights and a camera to register eye movements for signs a driver may be close to nodding off, and sounds an alarm. (AP Photo/Royal Beuk BV)

Cheaper solutions include ear-mounted devices that sound an alarm if a head has fallen forward, and a variety of smartphone apps that try to predict sleepiness or just keep a sleepy driver awake.

After completing trials during this winter and next summer's holiday seasons, Beuk will act as European distributor for Seeing Machines.

Canberra-based Seeing Machines has previously signed deals with Caterpillar and BHP Billiton. The industrial version of the systems cost up to $20,000 each—in vehicles that can cost more than a million. The slimmed-down version going into the buses will cost less than $5,000, and the company hopes eventually to market them to the trucking industry as well.

Fatigued drivers are a major cause of road accidents, said University of Pittsburg Professor Timothy Monk, who studies the effect of sleep disturbances. He said he couldn't speak to the merits of the Seeing Machines system Beuk is installing, but he applauded the effort.

"We're just starting to recognize that driving drowsy is a lot like driving drunk, only there's no social taboo on it," he said. "But it's just as dangerous, and you're just as dead at the end of it."

Explore further: A smart walker that guides its users

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EUV machines to swing into commercial action in 2015

Aug 08, 2013

(Phys.org) —ASML develops technology for high-tech lithography machines for the semiconductor industry. The company, based in The Netherlands, manufactures equipment that is used to transfer circuit patterns ...

A smart walker that guides its users

Dec 02, 2013

As part of the EU-funded DALi project, Siemens' global research unit Corporate Technology is developing a high-tech walker that can safely guide people with cognitive impairments through public buildings. ...

Australia approves BHP's huge Olympic Dam expansion

Oct 10, 2011

Australia on Monday gave environmental approval for mining behemoth BHP Billiton to expand its Olympic Dam project and create what officials said could be the world's largest open pit mine.

Recommended for you

Greater safety and security at Europe's train stations

Sep 01, 2014

When a suspicious individual fleas on a bus or by train, then things usually get tough for the police. This is because the security systems of the various transportation companies and security services are ...

Fingerprints for freight items

Sep 01, 2014

Security is a top priority in air freight logistics but screening procedures can be very time consuming and costly. Fraunhofer researchers intend to boost efficiency with a new approach to digital logistics, ...

On the way to a safe and secure smart home

Sep 01, 2014

A growing number of household operations can be managed via the Internet. Today's "Smart Home" promises efficient building management. But often the systems are not secure and can only be retrofitted at great ...

DIY glove-based tutor indicates muscle-memory potential

Aug 31, 2014

A senior editor at IEEE Spectrum worked on a DIY project that enabled his 11-year-old son to improve his touch typing by use of a vibrating glove. His son was already "pretty quick on the keyboard," said ...

User comments : 0