Prime Mover Magazine

A wheely good idea – FatigueHACK winners reveal progress on smart steering wheel

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) wrapped up its annual Technology and Maintenance Conference (TMC18) this week. Bringing together the best in technical and maintenance expertise, the event allowed fleet professionals and technicians to explore how technology is reshaping the industry.

Speaking at the conference was Augmented Intelligence, winners of FatigueHACK, a hackathon hosted by the ATA earlier this year in partnership with Teletrac Navman. After wowing the judges with its smart steering wheel, the group has been working hard to get the solution from concept to prototype, as detailed in their TMC session, ‘Help Steer Smarter Fatigue Management'. 

The solution so far Using electrocardiogram (ECG) devices, the smart steering wheel helps to detect the early stages of fatigue based on a driver’s heart rate. Driver fatigue remains an important issue for truckies, and technology providers were excited to see the progress Augmented Intelligence had made since the hackathon. Speakers at the session, Andrew Hammond, Team Leader for Augmented Intelligence, and Andrew Rossington, Vice President – Transport Solutions at Teletrac Navman, shared the journey of the solution thus far.

In the six months since FatigueHACK, the steering wheel has gone through significant changes, to ensure that the technology works with drivers rather than against them. The latest prototype has gotten considerably larger, as the original design was based on a traditional steering wheel rather than a truck-sized wheel. The tracking pads inside have also undergone further development to better cater to the driving habits and hand placement of the average truckie, while a facial recognition camera has been added along with monitoring of a truck’s location and speed. The data can then separate a change in heart rate due to stress rather than the early stages of fatigue. 

The smart steering wheel has gained support from the Canberra Innovation Network, as well as IntelliHQ and the Gold Coast University Hospital, which provides support from a clinical perspective. Data is stored via the cloud from Amazon Web Services and deep learning and data analysis support is provided by Intel and Trellis Data.

Looking towards the future

Hammond and Rossington presented the prototype and asked for feedback on the project’s vision and road map for the future. The pair commended TMC on its calibre of attendees and how engaged and insightful the crowd was during their presentation.

Many businesses seemed eager to get on board with the solution. Augmented Intelligence is planning a trial of up to 100 trucks by early 2019 and is on track to meet this goal since presenting at the TMC18.

“We’re incredibly thankful to both the ATA and Teletrac Navman for the opportunity to present our progress,” said Hammond. “A solution like this is sure to shake things up for the better in terms of managing fatigue and discovering innovative ways to improve road safety.”

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