AI-powered visual recognition technology from Seeing Machines will notify coach drivers if they seem distracted or fatigued by shaking the seat

National Express stock photographyPictures by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd

(Credit: Shaun Fellows/Shine Pix Ltd)

Artificial intelligence will be used by British coach operator National Express for monitoring bus driver fatigue – and shaking their seat to keep them alert.

It will deploy tech developed by Seeing Machines that detects body language of those behind the wheel to improve safety.

Australia-based Seeing Machines claims its Guardian system helps to reduce the number of “fatigue events” by at least 90% and has detected more than 4.5 million incidents of driver distraction.

National Express service delivery director Ed Rickard said: “Safety for employees, passengers and other road users is our number one priority and we pride ourselves on always pushing ahead with the use of training and technology in this area.

“Guardian will provide additional support to our drivers and further enhance the overall safety of our operations.”


How AI driver fatigue monitoring technology works

The AI software takes visual data from a driver-facing camera and a second lens facing the road and is able to detect tell-tale signs of tiredness by tracking the driver’s eyes and head position.

If the system believes the driver is suffering from lethargy or seems distracted, an audio alarm and vibrations in the seat are triggered to alert them.

The UK’s largest coach operator hopes the additional safety measure will help to prevent road accidents.

The technology will be installed in 700 coaches operated by National Express and its subsidiary Kings Ferry by the end of 2019.


What is Seeing Machines?

Seeing Machines, based in the Australian capital Canberra, specialises in facial recognition and eye-tracking technology.

Founded in 2000, the firm develops driver and operator monitoring systems for the automotive, mining, aviation, rail and medical industries – although predominantly used in the long-haul truck industry.

Seeing Machines
Seeing Machines Guardian system uses a driver-facing camera to monitor them (Credit: Seeing Machines)

Its clients include US car manufacturer General Motors, public transport provider TfL and airline Emirates.

Seeing Machines recently won a contract with Waymo, the autonomous vehicle offshoot of Google.

The contract, estimated to be worth $2.2m, will see the Guardian monitoring system installed as a safety feature in its self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles.

Speaking on the latest deal with National Express, Paul McGlone, CEO of Seeing Machines, said: “Safety is paramount when individuals entrust you to get them from point A to point B, and that’s where Guardian steps in.

“National Express will leverage our leading Guardian solution to improve the working environment of employees and the safety of passengers.

“Our engagement with National Express signifies the growing adoption of our Guardian technology in the bus and coach sector, as we continue to grow our client base in this transport segment with many large well-known global brands.”