SmartDrive adds distracted driving sensors to system

The SmartSense system, when used with optional sensors, can help detect distracted driving.

SmartDrive Systems, which is already among the leaders in video-based safety systems, is adding sensors as an option for fleets to help detect drowsy and fatigued driving. The company made the announcement at the recent American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fl.

SmartSense utilizes engine computer data, telematics, accelerometer and SmartDrive analytic data to identify risk.

“We’ve always been focused on unsafe driving, but [it was event-triggered],” explained Jason Palmer, COO, to FreightWaves. SmartSense “allows us to more continuously monitor the driver.”

SmartSense is an add-on option to the current SmartDrive system. The sensors build a 3D heat map of a driver’s face and continually monitors it for changes, with a particular focus on the pupils, Palmer says. The purpose of the system is to reduce false positives, which were problematic for fleets and drivers in situations where a driver may be looking around for a parking space, but the system identified it as a fatigued behavior.

It also will help identify drivers that may be fatigued before they get into a bad situation. “What we found is drivers would put themselves into a situation where they are not speeding, are in the center of the lane, and they get a false sense of [security],” said Melissa Purcell, SVP, marketing and customer success.

By focusing on head and eye movements, SmartSense more accurately identifies potential distraction or fatigue than relying solely on event-based triggers such as hard braking or lane departure. When the sensor detects distraction, inattention or drowsiness, it triggers a video, which is prioritized and offloaded for immediate verification and intervention, allowing fleets to act quickly.

“It’s estimated that distracted driving accounts for 10% of all fatal crashes and 17% of all collisions that cause injuries—at a cost of at least $129 billion annually. Given the difficulty of proving distraction as a root cause, these numbers are probably low,” said Steve Mitgang, CEO. “With SmartSense for Distracted Driving, we’re tackling this issue head-on by delivering an intelligent sensor tuned specifically to this risk. And, because it’s delivered with our video safety program, fleets finally have both a comprehensive view of the frequency, severity and impact of distracted driving, and a solution to an industry epidemic that costs money and lives.”

SmartSense can be combined with the SmartDrive program and its Extended Recording capability to provide fleets a complete picture of what led to the distraction, the company explained, including more context of the event.

“Today, the majority of computer vision-based technologies operate in isolation from other systems and sensors on the vehicle—which means they are acting on data only available from their own system. This is a missed opportunity that will limit options for fleets in this new age of intelligent transportation,” said Mitgang. “With the SmartSense product line, we are taking a different approach by fusing sensor, vehicle and environmental data—creating a convergence of information that makes the entire system smarter and better able to help fleets prepare drivers for a world of more autonomous technology.”

The platform includes:

  • Distraction and inattention triggers that detect when eyes are off the road for a defined time period or a driver has exceeded a specific number of distracted incidents
  • Purpose-built hardware with infrared sensors to capture distraction even when sunglasses are worn
  • In-cab alerts when distraction or inattention occurs
  • Prioritized review and risk scoring for video of distraction events
  • Integration with the proven SmartDrive video safety program

SmartSense will be available toward the end of the first quarter. Existing SmartDrive fleets need only acquire the necessary hardware. It is an option for new customers.

The company also announced that Michelin North America has led a preferred-stock round of investment in the company. SmartDrive will use the investment to fuel continued growth in video analytics and transportation intelligence, with a particular emphasis in the areas of R&D, sales and marketing, and expansion in North America and international markets.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.