Electronic alarm rouses truck drivers

Monday, 11 December, 2006

A combination of camera and software is going to help protect drivers from the dangerous effects of momentary drowsiness.

Siemens has introduced the Driver Attention System. The alarm warns truck drivers when they are experiencing the effects of fatigue or when the first lapses in concentration occur during long trips.

The system will be ready for serious production in about three years. It complements the line of driver assistance systems being developed by Siemens VDO under the name pro.pilot, a range of products which also includes a night-vision system and a proximity-regulating cruise control.

The system can also be used in passenger cars.

The Driver Attention System operates with an infrared camera which continually monitors the driver's face, and it is installed in such a way that it doesn't disturb the person behind the wheel.

Because it records infrared wavelengths, the system works reliably day and night, with software evaluating the images in real time. It analyses the direction of sight and the number and duration of eye blinks.

In the case of fatigued drivers, there is a significant increase in the number of slow blinks. If the software registers exhaustion, the system reacts step by step and warns the driver. First the seat vibrates, in effect shaking the driver awake. If the driver then continues driving, he or she will hear a chiming tone which becomes incrementally louder, urging the driver to take a break.

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