It is necessary to remain safety-conscious at all times because only a split second of carelessness can lead to a devastating loss. This is especially true for road accidents, which not only occur with startling frequency but are also capable of causing great harm to life and property. As one of the leading causes of motor accidents is falling asleep at the wheel, Chemicals Business, SCG has developed an application named Kubdee, which means ‘drive well’ in Thai, for use with the company’s delivery trucks to help ensure the safety of both its drivers and other road users.
“At SCG, we have put in place safety policies, to which we strictly adhere. Driving safety is one of the key concerns for SCG, and it is our goal to reduce the number of accidents to zero. Therefore, in addition to safety regulations and campaigns that set out to educate our employees and raise their safety awareness, we have developed a technology that focuses on the driver and can effectively reduce the risk of road accidents.”
Explaining the inception of the technology, Sophon Arayasathaporn, Plant Reliability & Innovation Technology Center Manager, at Rayong Engineering and Plant Service Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Chemicals Business, SCG said that Kubdee was an idea of the engineering team that had been working on AI (artificial intelligence) for machinery and plant control. They believed that they could build on their AI and develop an application that could widen the scope of where digital technology could enhance safety. As they saw how this invention could be applied not only to the logistic system of the company’s factories but also to personal cars and public transport in the future, the team became truly driven to bring it to life and launch it for public use at a reasonable price.
So, they began figuring out how digital technology could help improve road safety.
The engineering team started out by looking into how drowsiness and fatigue had been defined by the world’s leading universities and compiling data of all physical manifestations of those conditions. This data was then used to create a system capable of detecting facial landmarks and movements that indicated impairment in the driver’s ability to drive safely due to, for instance, fatigue, sleep deprivation, drowsiness, and cellphone use. Using an infrared sensor that causes no distraction and can be used at night, the Kubdee application can accurately detect changes in the driver’s eyes, mouth, and face without any limitations on the size and shape of the facial components and remains functional even when the driver’s had sunglasses on. The application can, among its many capabilities, detect when the eyes do not focus on the road and calculate the relations between the driver’s line of sight and driving maneuvers, such as turning, reversing, and braking.
Practical and efficient
To use Kubdee, the vehicle needs to be outfitted with the necessary equipment first. This includes an infrared camera for face detection, a processing unit inside the cabin, a vibration system installed in the back of the driver’s seat, and a speaker system that allows the driver to communicate with the staff at the control center. After activating the application and start driving, when the application detects signs of fatigue, sleep deprivation, sleepiness, or other conditions that can potentially lead to an accident, the processing system will, as the first warning, activate the alarm and the seat vibration system, which the driver must push a button next to the steering wheel to deactivate. However, the detection system will continue to work for the duration of the driving.
The intensity of the alarm and the seat vibration system comes in three levels and increases with each activation. If the driver fails to push the response button in time, the processing system will automatically call the control center, so that the staff, who can see the driver via the infrared camera, can talk to the driver to gauge their capacity and recommend appropriate rest stops.
What makes Kubdee truly efficient and practical is the short response time and high accuracy. Time is of the essence, and a split second of sleepiness can mean a grave accident. As the application can notify the control center in mere seconds, it can help ensure that the staff can act promptly to prevent an accident and save lives.
In addition to the enhanced safety of drivers while they are at work, the application allows for the collection of big data, which can then be processed and applied to management in the future.
“For example, the data obtained from a field test of Kubdee in a short distance from Rayong to Laem Chabang shows that although the driver strictly adheres to SCG’s safety regulations on required sleeping hours or a good employee management system has been put in place, fatigue and drowsiness still pose a real risk in practice. Therefore, we believe that this application needs to be implemented with all kinds of delivery vehicles. We have talked to Cement-Building Materials Business, SCG about testing this technology, especially with logistic units covering long distances across provinces, in order to monitor their operations and collect more data.”
This big data also has further applications as it can be used to assess the performance of individual drivers, calculate the appropriate number of drivers for each operation, and plot out routes and all the rest stops required to ensure safety and efficiency.
The engineering team is proud, and rightly so, that they have developed an application that contributes to better safety for drivers and other road users. “In the development of this application, the major challenge was translating physical cues of drowsiness into digital data that artificial intelligence could learn from to develop the ability to recognize this condition. Another source of challenge was coming up with a design that would best suit the daily life of the driver and cause no disruption to their existing routine. The system should, for instance, allow the driver to wear sunglasses as they normally would and feature no screen or lights that might cause distraction. In addition, the response button should also be in a position where the driver would not need to let go of the steering wheel to push.
“Therefore, we are proud and excited to see that our fruit of labor works in the real world and can really help people, because drowsy driving is the fourth biggest cause of road accidents. It fills us with pride to know that we are helping to reduce these numbers in our country, and it feels great to see everyone return to their family safely after work each day.”