Trucking will one day be fully autonomous. In the meantime, big trucks cause a lot of accidents.
According to a recent report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 2018 saw roughly 500,000 accidents attributed to large trucks (over 10,000 lb) in the US alone while the rate of trucking related fatalities rose to its highest in 30 years. Joe Exotic may have had a high stakes job, but trucking tops the charts as the most dangerous job in the US. In fact, trucking-related fatalities have been rising, which underscores the urgency of safety problems.
Solutions form within the sector include better hour and mileage restrictions on drivers and better training. But technology can also play a role, particularly in the form of devices that monitor drivers and proactively warn them when they've become distracted or are exhibiting signs of fatigue. Because these devices can also notify dispatch of distracted driving, they might be thought of as well meaning in-cab tattle tales, an omnipresent eye that's always watching.
Cipia, formerly Eyesight Technologies, an AI computer vision in-cabin automotive solutions provider, makes one such device, called Fleet Sense. Combining edge-based computer vision and AI, the device provides drivers with real-time alerts when drowsiness, distraction, or dangerous actions are detected to mitigate resulting accidents, while the Fleet Management System (FMS) receives tailored real-time alerts, allowing operators to take appropriate action.
"With both the human as well as financial cost associated with trucking accidents rising over the past decade, the fleet industry is in need of technological solutions to help avoid costly mistakes" said David Tolub, CEO of Cipia. "Fleet Sense will not only provide TSPs and Fleets with a robust driver monitoring system, but will also integrate fully to help them maximize their other data driven programs."
Other distracted driver detection systems have come to market from companies like Mobileye, one of the early players in the vehicle sensor market, and Guardian Optical Technologies. As sensor prices fall, companies like these are coming up with novel onboard sensing suites designed to make cruising the highway safer. Guardian's "All in One" sensor detects inside the cabin of an automobile. The sensor uses video image recognition (2D), depth mapping (3D), and optical micro- to macro-motion analysis to scan vehicle occupants and monitor for a number of states, including improperly worn seatbelts and infants left behind in cars. If a driver's head position shifts in a way that suggests drowsiness or distraction. If a threshold for either state is met, the Guardian system sounds an alarm.
"The position of a driver's head is an integral part of understanding whether the driver is paying attention to the road while also indicating if he or she is drowsy," Gil Dotan, CEO of Guardian, told us in 2018.