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: Caterpillar will install no-doze system for mining trucks

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

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

12 hours ago

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...