Published on April 21st, 2020 📆 | 6598 Views ⚑0
COVID-19 means truckers need facemask-aware driver monitoring systems
After much political to-ing and fro-ing, it seems everyone is now on the same page: people should wear face masks in public while the coronavirus pandemic rages. A mask might not stop you from getting sick, but it may well prevent you from infecting other people. But what happens if you need to wear a face mask while operating a machine that depends upon seeing your face? I am of course referring to fleet drivers who drive vehicles with vision-based driver monitoring systems (DMSes), and the answer is “you need to update your DMS to work with face masks.” Which is exactly what Israeli company Eyesight Technologies has done.
A lot of the focus on DMSes has been for passenger vehicles in relation to partly automated driver aids like GM’s Super Cruise (which uses gaze-tracking to ensure the driver is looking at the road ahead as a condition for operation) or Tesla’s Autopilot (which has been repeatedly criticized by federal safety agencies for failing to do the same).
But a DMS isn’t just a good idea for a hands-free driving aid; people can and do get distracted in plain-old regular cars, too. Which is why automakers like Subaru and Mazda equip their vehicles with camera-based DMSes here in the US and abroad.
Convincing individual drivers that a safety option is worth ticking when buying a new car is one thing, but like telematics that monitor a vehicle’s health and its driver’s behavior, it’s a different story when we’re talking about fleets of commercial vehicles. And it’s this application that Eyesight’s system is aimed at. It sells an aftermarket system called FleetSense that watches a number of facial features like a driver’s mouth, eyes, eyelids, and head pose to detect when that driver isn’t paying attention to the road or is falling asleep. But the algorithm doesn’t like it when it can’t recognize all those facial features—like when someone is wearing a mask, for instance.
With the prospect of China restarting its economy in the coming months, the company has reworked its software so that a driver wearing a mask won’t defeat the DMS, and it’s beginning the process of rolling the updated software out to its clients, including one at the center of the pandemic. And maybe here in the US, too:
“Exsun is a telematics service provider in Wuhan, China supporting hundreds of thousands of trucks,” Eyesight VP of product Tal Krzypow told me by email. “They are a customer of Eyesight Technologies and will be rolling out Fleet Sense, our aftermarket driver monitoring system for fleets, in the coming months. We expect their drivers to continue wearing masks as the city gets back to work. We are working with similar telematic/ fleet service providers in the US. Unfortunately, we cannot mention them by name as they have not yet announced the news.”