Spending hours on the highway can often leave truck drivers drowsy.
“I hate to say it, but unless you’re on the phone or something, a lot of drivers do what I do – you just kind of zone out,” said Tara Krate, a truck driver with more than a decade of experience.
Krate drives about 500 miles round-trip on her daily route and said it’s easy to sometimes lose focus.
But new technology could use those sleepy head bobs to make the industry a little safer.
Bloomfield-based Maven Machines has created a wearable device to monitor safety, using a headset that connects to a smart phone.
It uses motion sensors to monitor drivers’ reactions, checking for movement such as a lolling head that can indicate a driver is falling asleep behind the wheel. It also tracks how frequently drivers are checking their side mirrors.
“There was already a federal guideline that truck drivers should check their mirrors every five to eight seconds,” said Maven Machines founder and CEO Avi Geller. “So, one of the things we did with this technology is we became the first mirror-check monitor.”
Geller said current trucking safety precautions left something to be desired.
“Until now, all the solutions for monitoring driving habits have largely been sensors on the vehicle to detect if it’s leaving its lane or if it’s too close to the vehicle in front or if the driver slams on his brakes,” he said.
Maven’s headset also enables the driver to receive messages directly from a fleet manager or supervisor. The driver can then acknowledge the message by nodding his or her head or using simple verbal commands.
Krate now uses the Maven Machines headset and said it’s made her a safer and more aware driver. Though, she said her coworkers were skeptical at first.
“We were absolutely apprehensive because our trucking company has multiple safety things in our trucks,” she said. “So we all just looked at it as another safety thing kinda thrown at us.”
Geller said the goal is to help fleet managers recognize risks and know when to re-train drivers. The headset also alerts drivers immediately when they need to self-correct.
“So we have what we call the Maven score, which is based on mirror checks, head bobs, speed and we’re constantly adding factors that make up the driver’s Maven safety score,” Geller said. “If that score drops, and it can be sudden or gradual, the driver is alerted.”
Geller says six fleets have purchased the technology, collectively logging more than 150,000 miles so far.
“I’m proud to say that so far, we have not had a single accident with a driver wearing a co-pilot headset,” Geller said.
In this week's Tech Headlines:
- Some Pittsburgh-area businesses are cashing in on the popularity of PokemonGo. Rivers Casino on the North Shore and Kaleidoscope Café in Lawrenceville are among local businesses capitalizing on the app to boost business by becoming hot spots for the virtual characters. Players use GPS on their smart phones to track and collect the characters as part of the game. The Carnegie Museum of Art also hosted a PokemonGo training session and hunt last week to attract visitors.
- A professor at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new algorithm for analyzing cancer cells. The new method gives researchers, for the first time, the ability to simultaneously identify two different types of genetic changes associated with cancers and connections between the two. This could help determine what interactions accelerate or slow the disease.