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Smart steering wheel takes fatigue prize

FatigueHack competition winners plan to build on winning fatigue idea for 2019 ATA event


What if, instead of a driver getting too tired to drive and having to soldier on looking for a place to park, you could reliably warn them they will reach that level of fatigue 30 minutes before they get there?

That’s the goal of the Augmented Intelligence team, which won the Australian Trucking Association’s FatigueHACK event held on the fringes of the ATA’s Trucking Australia 2018 event on the weekend with the idea to monitor a driver’s heartrate through ECG devices implanted in the steering wheel.

The FatigueHack event was what is known in IT circles as a hackathon, a modern industry event where experts from different fields gather groups together to generate and test creative ideas to help fix complex problems.

FatigueHACK participants had access to Trucking Australia 2018 delegates as well as mentors from backgrounds including truck drivers, owner operators, CEOs, health professionals, technology experts, and innovation specialists.

Augmented Intelligence, made up of entrepreneurs and health clinicians from Canberra and Brisbane, won $6,000 and the right to work the idea through with the CBR Innovation Network over the next year.

Team spokesman Andrew Hammond tells ATN that many of the delegates he spoke to felt they had a good handle on knowing when they were fatigued – adding that predictive aspect of the idea was what would help the most.

“Our view was if we can predict when they are going to hit that fatigue point and tell them where there are appropriate places to stop, that gives them a lot more control over where they are going to stop and to control that fatigue,” Hammond says.

“Part of what we found in the early conversations was that it could not be just another gadget for them to use, which is why we moved away from the wearables – they just had to hang onto the steering wheel which they would be doing anyway.”

Using a medical grade ECG machine will help to sample the heartrate at about 250 samples per second, enabling the machine to monitor the onset of fatigue as well as other health metrics, such as risk of stroke or heart attack.

Hammond says the concept was “definitely going to be more than an idea,” saying that the group ultimately hoped to make the concept a saleable product.

“To keep us honest, and to give us a goal, I want to present our findings and where we are up to at [Trucking Australia 2019] next year,” he adds.

“We want to make sure that we actually give something back and say, here is what we have found in the 12 months since the conference and hopefully that will be a proof of concept and a trial and a few other bits and pieces.

“Based on the reception we got on the idea people in the industry I think we are onto something that could actually help, and I think it would be a shame not to take it forward.”

Teletrac Navman solutions specialist Chris L’Ecluse, who worked as an industry mentor at the FatigueHack  event, tells ATN he had been impressed by the approach taken by the team in coming up with their idea.

“What we realised through fatigue hack was we are looking at ways to predict when somebody is going to get tired. Why wait until they are tired when we hopefully can predict where they are going to get tired?” he said.

“I just felt that by implanting those technologies into a steering wheel the driver didn’t have to wear something or actively do anything… that that was, from a proactive perspective, what gained the audience’s approval.”


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