Computer/camera system to monitor bus drivers for dangerous fatigue

Dec. 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A system using computers to track bus drivers' eye movements and blinks to prevent accidents on long-distance trips is being tested, European researchers say.

The Dutch coach operator Royal Beuk has installed the system from Australian company Seeing Machines on two of its vehicles and has recruited four more bus companies to do the same, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The system uses special cameras installed inside a vehicle to monitor the driver's gaze, and if it detects they are distracted or taking "microsleeps" because of fatigue -- naps that can last just seconds and take place without a person's knowledge -- it activates a vibration motor built into the driver's seat.

It can also trigger an alarm to alert a co-driver to take over control of the vehicle.

"Coach accidents aren't that frequent, but when they do happen they are so catastrophic that they make the [newspaper] front pages and in a lot of cases it is almost the end of the coach company involved as no-one wants to ride with them anymore," Seeing Machine's chief Ken Kroeger said.

During the winter months the vehicles with the system installed will travel from the Netherlands to ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland and Italy, then in summer will travel to southern parts of France, Italy and Spain.

If the nine-month test is a success, the system will be installed across Royal Beuk's 60-vehicle fleet, the company's research manager, Marc Beuk, said.

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