A number of operators are now getting smart about fatigue and using a new technology to manage the issue. Smart Cap measures fatigue to warn drivers and operators about potential issues.
Operators looking for an early indicator of fatigue to aid in accident prevention use the Smart Cap’s electroencephalogram (EEG) as a test which tracks and records brain wave patterns. The brain waves are passively measured using sensor inside a head band, either on its own or sewn into a cap.
The system knows that certain patterns correspond to certain patterns of fatigue and goes through a series of double checking mechanisms to ensure the reading is accurate. An app on a smartphone or the built screen in the cab will show a driver’s fatigue score. The driver can see where they are on a scale.
There is no need to calibrate Smart Cap, it’s looking for patterns and an algorithm examines whether there are signs of fatigue. A machine learning algorithm analyses each driver and tries to detect particular changes associated with fatigue status with minimal false positives occuring.
“Because we are measuring at the source, we are not looking for any external signs of fatigue,” says Tim Ekert, Smart Cap Technology CEO. “It can’t be affected by the driver or any other interference.
“The system is not intrusive and 99.9 per cent of the time only provides feedback to the driver. They have an interaction with the screen and can see where they are. The alarms pop up as they become more fatigued.
“It’s only when they get to a certain point where they are getting multiple alarms and they are not responding quickly enough, that a supervisor or manager will be notified.”
There are three levels measured, 2, 3, 3+ and 4. 3+ provokes and alert and a reading of 4 sets off the alarm. The screen will be blank while driving, but the driver can just touch the screen and check their fatigue status.
If the level goes to 3+ the unit will beep and the screen will light up automatically to alert the driver to the fact. Something to alleviate the fatigue should then be performed by the driver, whether it is taking a drink of water or changing position. If this works the status will drop back down to 2.
If fatigue continues to build and the status goes to 4, the alert becomes more insistent to ensure the driver takes action on the situation. Something more effective needs to be done at this point.
The system is sending this status and alert data to a cloud-based collection point and a supervisor will be able to log into a dashboard and see how all of their drivers are performing at anytime. It is also possible for the operator to set the system to alert a supervisor via email or SMS if a driver is getting into fatigue issues and setting off a a series of alerts.
“One of our customers has their system set up so that if a driver sets off two alerts in a row, the driver has to pull up at the first safe spot and take a walk around the truck to do a safety check,,” says Tim. “Another customer says two alerts means the driver has to call in and have a conversation with their supervisor.”
Six Brisbane Port operators have recently got involved with a free trial of the technology, sponsored by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. Some drivers were resistant to the equipment, but after 12 months of experience, two of the operators are now negotiating to introduce the equipment into their business.
“We spend time answering questions from drivers about data privacy and what the system is actually measuring and what happens to their data,” says Tim. “Some fear a big brother type of thing when you measure their brain waves. We are at pains to explain what’s recorded to put their minds at ease.”