DENSO, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, has been actively fighting to reduce the number of traffic accidents by keeping drivers alert at all times. After introducing the prototype of their upgraded driver status monitor last year, the company is releasing the safety devices into the wild now, ready to be used on buses and trucks.
Last fall, DENSO and FotoNation, a company specialized in imaging solutions part of Xperi Corp., were announcing their partnership to smartify the cabin camera system. The Driver Status Monitor developed by DENSO would use facial recognition and neural network technologies perfected by FotoNation to improve its quality, speed and performance.
Now, a press release confirmed the safety product’s availability and features. The latest version of Driver Status Monitor is now sold by DENSO Sales and DENSO service stations across Japan and will be released outside the country later this year.
When that happens, truck and bus drivers will have a vigilant co-pilot, if you will, at all times with them. The monitor will look for signs of drowsiness, sleep, and inappropriate posture starting from the driver’s facial image, captured through a camera installed in the cabin. If the case, it will send an audible alert which can be forwarded to the operation manager in real time, making it possible to caution the driver and take quick action.
Moreover, the alerts emitted will be recorded on a SD card for later viewing. The operation manager will, in turn, get a chance to review them and even see images of the driver at the moment of alert.
DENSO also figured out a way to link the monitor to a new telematics device for commercial vehicles (expected this summer) and a cloud-based digital tachograph from Fujitsu Limited.
The company’s initiative is admirable, having the potential to not just save a couple, but dozens of innocent lives that travel by bus every day. On the other hand, outside the city, such a system could prevent chain-reaction crashes triggered by truck driver drowsiness. Even if that doesn’t happen, a truck driver (and its merchandise) would most likely not come unscathed from a rollover.