The Israeli developer of an artificial intelligence-powered computer vision solution to detect driver distraction and drowsiness has announced new capabilities to monitor driver awareness while wearing a medical face mask.
Eyesight Technologies, based in Herzliya, said it adapted its Driver Monitoring Solution (DMS) to maintain the safety of drivers opting or required to wear face masks during the coronavirus outbreak.
Identifying and preventing driver distraction and drowsiness is especially important today, the start-up says, due to extra hours spent on the road during the current period by essential workers, including truck drivers, municipal workers, bus drivers and warehouse staff.
Even a brief distraction can be fatal, with a 40-ton tractor-trailer traveling at 40 miles per hour requiring 525 feet to stop.
"Food shelves and pharmacies are being emptied and truck drivers are picking up the burden to keep the markets filled," Eyesight Technologies VP of Product Tal Krzypow told The Jerusalem Post.
"This requires spending more hours behind the wheel and extra road time with less sleep. These factors increase the potential for distraction or drowsiness behind the wheel. Furthermore, because of coronavirus, truck drivers need to wear masks to protect themselves from the risks."
While driver monitoring systems can often fail to detect distraction and drowsiness should one or more facial features are obscured, Eyesight Technologies says its Driver Sense solution algorithms have been trained to detect signs of poor concentration while wearing a mask and glasses.
"We've trained our DMS to work despite the occlusions to the face created by the face mask, and that allows us to ensure truck drivers remain alert even with the extra adversity they are facing today," said Krzypow.
"As with any AI or computer vision system, training the model takes time and data. We had to collect large amounts of data of drivers wearing various face masks in different driving scenarios, and as expected this is not something that can be done overnight."
In November, Eyesight Technologies announced that a well-known US vehicle manufacturer would integrate its solution into two new car models, set to begin production in 2021. The value of the deal was estimated at $15 million.
The company previously announced a partnership with a publicly-traded Chinese Tier 1 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to bring Driver Sense to automakers in the huge Chinese automotive market.
The European Council has also adopted a regulation requiring all new cars entering the EU market from mid-2022 to be equipped with advanced safety systems, including advanced driver distraction and drowsiness warning systems.