Drivers of trucks, dozers, graders and excavators at Australian mines could soon be saved from the risks of fatigue by their headgear.
Incidents on mine sites caused by tiredness are a significant cause of injuries and deaths, and cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost production and accidents each year. So Dr Daniel Bongers at the Cooperative Research Centre for Mining (CRCMining) in Brisbane has invented a SmartCap, fitted with sophisticated sensors which can “read” the brain’s nerve activity through hair and detect the level of fatigue of the wearer.
Even with the built-in sensors, the SmartCap looks and feels like a typical baseball cap. A detachable lightweight processing card fits under the brim. Fatigue levels are recorded on a display in the cabin of the vehicle, and can be relayed back to a base station.
The invention is the result of collaboration between mining companies, fatigue and sleep experts, and mining industry funding bodies.
Global mining operations represent a market for 9700 SmartCaps, with the potential of expanding to 1.2 million if heavy trucks are included.
CRCMining CEO Professor Mike Hood said the system could eventually be used well beyond the mining environment. “The many advantages of the SmartCap include the fact that it is lightweight, mobile and highly accurate,” he says. “This means the technology is easily adaptable to a passenger car environment.”