Big truck safety project hits the highway


Finemore, Seeing Machines, MUARC and CRC involved in landmark study

Big truck safety project hits the highway
Finemore trucks will have driver monitoring technology for the study

 

The wraps are off one of the biggest trucking safety initiatives of recent times.

The $6.5 million Advanced Safe Truck Concept (ASTC), an Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Project, aims to reduce fatal truck crashes by developing new vehicle technologies.

This is to be achieved by studying driver behaviour and better understanding the impact of driver fatigue and distraction in particular.

The partnership is headed by Canberra company Seeing Machines and includes Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) and Ron Finemore Transport Services (RFT).

Ron Finemore Transport, which employs more than 450 people and has more than 200 prime movers, will fit its fleet of trucks with the same driver monitoring technology as part of the project’s Naturalistic Road Safety Study (NRSS).

"By participating in this study we are helping to make Australian roads safer for not only our drivers but all users of our roads," Finemore GM Darren Wood says.

"At RFT we are committed to world’s best practice in driver and fleet safety.

"As end users, we have the opportunity to influence the technology so it best addresses the needs of the freight industry."

Federal urban infrastructure and cities Paul Fletcher is kicking off the initiative officially.

"On behalf of the Australian Government, I am pleased to be launching this important study which aims to help make our roads safer for all users," Fletcher says. 

"I congratulate Seeing Machines and all the partners here today for their important work and I look forward to following the study’s progress." 

Its proponents say the study is the first of its kind in the world to link in-cab driver monitoring technology with the external traffic and roadway in real-time.

The Seeing Machines technology is fitted to a number of vehicles from the Ron Finemore Transport Services fleet.

The two-phase program is based on the Seeing Machines’ Guardian technology platform that monitors for and alerts drivers to fatigue and distraction. 

Seeing Machines executive chairman Ken Kroeger says the innovative technology positions the project as a world-leading road safety initiative.

"We are so proud to be at the forefront of road safety here in Australia and excited to see our driver monitoring technology delivering safety solutions across all transport sectors globally,"Kroeger adds.

According to Seeing Machines chief scientific officer and project leader Dr Michael Lenné, the effort is an "opportunity to drive clever product design in revolutionary ways to enhance road safety".

"Furthermore, it’s very rewarding to see the Australian Government recognise both the technological innovation and the road safety impact of this project," Lenné says.

"It’s exciting to work with great partners on a project that will positively impact the heavy vehicle industry in Australia and around the world and consequently, the safety of all road users."

Phase one of the project has seen the testing of truck drivers in MUARC’s Advanced Driving Simulator, the first time a truck simulator has been used for research in Australia.

Drivers are tested in a rested and a fatigued state so a better understanding of fatigue on truck safety can be achieved.

MUARC director Professor Judith Charlton believes the research could make a profound impact in reducing fatalities in the freight industry. 

"We pride ourselves on translating evidence-based research into real-world solutions and by working alongside our industry partners and with the support of the federal government, this project has the capacity to prevent injuries and save lives," Charlton says.

Associate Professor Michael Fitzharris, head of MUARC’s Regulation and In-depth Crash Investigation Unit, points to the potential of advances in use.

 "The type of technology deployed here has the potential to be applied across all vehicles, potentially saving thousands of lives and preventing countless serious injuries," Fitzharris says.

"By working in partnership with key stakeholders, the program represents a profound opportunity to demonstrate the value of combining in-vehicle driver monitoring with what is happening on the road, in real-time.

"We would hope that this type of technology is fitted to all vehicles as standard equipment in the future."

The full project is expected to be completed at the end of 2019.

 

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