BHP, a global resource company, has created a technology, Smartcap, that can monitor brainwaves in order to measure fatigue.
The technology was created to monitor the brains of mining workers in order to better manage safe working conditions, but now the trucking industry is picking up on this technology to better understand and monitor driver fatigue.
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Smartcap was first tested in Chile and proved to be successful. BHP says it could deploy “smart caps” that measure the brainwaves of truck drivers to monitor fatigue and improve worker safety, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
BHP’s chief technology officer, Diane Jurgens, said, “If you think about a baseball cap, and then on the inside of the cap is a strip, about six inches wide, and it sits on your forehead and it actually can measure your brainwaves and look at the change. And there are patterns that show fatigue, over time.”
The sensors in the cap communicate wirelessly with a small unit in the truck’s cabin.
“And when it detects fatigue it will notify our drivers. But also, just as importantly, it’s integrated with our back office and the supervisors…so they can intervene,” Jurgens explains.
“You can’t fool this cap, because it’s watching your brainwaves, not looking at your eyes.”
The main goal of the Smartcap is to increase efficiency, safety, and productivity. The theory is that if companies can scientifically study consistent fatigue data they can better protect their drivers and determine best hours of service protocols.
“It’s in 150 plus trucks, so it’s not inexpensive, but in terms of safety, it’s really effective. So we are going to be rolling it out across our other operations as well. The technology right now is only used in Chile, but it’s applicable across all of our operations,” Jurgen said.
The systems are planned to be released in Australia – if it proves to be successful in real life conditions BHP is eager to expand use to the U.S.
“Using a systems engineering approach, we are also integrating our operations to improve productivity. Now we can better track supply chain output and minimise waste as we move to the next level of drill, truck, and rail automation.”