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Wakey, Wakey!

NZ Herald reports on an in-vehicle camera technology that analyses the slightest drooping eye or swaying head could be a lifeline for Kiwi truckies nodding off behind the wheel.

A pioneering brand of Australian driver fatigue alert systems is aiming to have about 4000 units on New Zealand roads by the end of the year.

However, some are questioning to what extent such technological advances actually address the underlying working conditions in an industry that saw 75 truck deaths in 2016.

The Guardian in-cabin infrared cameras detect "microsleep" events using a computer algorithm of the human face, and within 1.5 seconds of shut eyelids issues a beeping alarm and vibrates the driver's seat.

In the last 12 months, Guardian has issued 86,057 fatigue interventions on roads globally. The infrared cameras can detect facial expressions and eye patterns in the dark, and through sunglasses. They also alert "distraction" events if a driver's eyes wander from the road for more than 4 seconds.

Chief executive of driver safety tech-business AutoSense, Charles Dawson, is the Kiwi distributor of the Guardian technology, which costs about $120 a month to maintain in a truck cabin.

Dawson estimated there would be a three-fold jump from the existing 1300 units in the coming months, which he admitted was "not yet a big percentage" of the 160,000 trucks on New Zealand roads.

"Like any new product it does take some time to educate. The transport industry are reasonably skeptical of new things," he said.

"Actually what we do, inside a dynamic environment that is a truck cab, to lock onto a drivers face, and everyone of them is different, hold onto it and say that person's eyes have closed, meeting all these thresholds, is actually quite tricky.

"The technology's only really just got to the point where it's good for everyday."

That might be handy to have in my car, but not at $120 a month!

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