Eye tracking technology for mining machines
Australian-based Seeing Machines has signed a strategic agreement with Caterpillar Global Mining LLC, a leading manufacturer of mining equipment, for DSS in-cab Fatigue Monitoring Systems for use in mining machines.
The agreement covers a multiple-phase approach that commences with a supply and support agreement of the fatigue monitoring systems through the global Cat Dealer network and progresses to further phases that include joint product development and technology licensing agreements.
“The safety of our mining customers’ employees is a paramount issue to us,” said David Edwards, Safety Solutions Manager for Caterpillar Global Mining. “Seeing Machines delivers both safety and productivity benefits to the mining industry. Going forward we see even closer integration between what in-cab fatigue monitoring can deliver in both intervention alerts and analytics to improve safety and performance.”
Under the agreement, Seeing Machines and Caterpillar envision greater integration of the fatigue monitoring systems with Cat MineStar System so that data on fatigue and distraction can be integrated into the overall management functions of the mine and business.
Seeing Machines, headquartered in Canberra, has developed fatigue monitoring systems using patented eye and head tracking technology to detect operator fatigue and distraction and to alert the mine controller and the machine operator. The product development for use in the mining industry was a result of research conducted by the company which identified a sequence of events before someone had a microsleep, including changes in eyelid behaviour, and the system is designed to monitor this behaviour, which includes the frequency of blinking.
“The alliance with Seeing Machines is a natural progression of Caterpillar Global Mining’s work to mitigate fatigue issues in mining activities,” said Al Frese, general manager of solutions, technology and marketing for Caterpillar Global Mining. “For the past 10 years, Caterpillar Global Mining has been raising awareness and industry understanding of the implications of 24/7 shift work on equipment operator performance, distraction and fatigue through industry training programs, such as Managing a Mining Lifestyle, and through partnerships with industry organisations and research universities.”
The alliance agreement also supports collaboration in future product development.
“We look forward to growing the use of our fatigue monitoring systems and to working jointly with Caterpillar Global Mining to integrate our technology into Cat MineStar System mine management functions and to develop expanded capabilities for this technology,” said Terry Winters, chairman of Seeing Machines.
Seeing Machines’ Driver Safety System (DSS), a commercial system for mining trucks, currently is working on more than 20 mine sites and 1500 vehicles. The system continuously measures operator eye and eyelid behaviour to determine the onset of fatigue and microsleeps and delivers real-time detection and alerts, yet the operator is not required to wear any special equipment. Additionally, automatic initialisation and calibration of the dash-mounted camera requires no input from the operator. As a result, the system is transparent to the operator.
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