SAFETY TECH: The prototype for the new safety wheel is put through its paces.
SAFETY TECH: The prototype for the new safety wheel is put through its paces.

Smart wheel closer to reality

AUGMENTED Intelligence, which invented the smart steering wheel that won the ATA's recent FatigueHACK, has continued to develop and is now refining their prototype after testing.

Eight teams made up of industry outsiders brainstormed innovative ways to combat the age-old issue of driver fatigue and were judged on their initiatives at Canberra's National Convention Centre last April.

Since then, Augmented Intelligence's Canberra-based team leader Andrew Hammond joined the ATA team and Volvo Professional Driver Trainer Bill Manton at the Sutton Road Training Centre to test their prototype in the Volvo ATA Safety Truck.

Andrew walked the team through how the technology works and how it could help drivers manage their fatigue.

Speaking to Big Rigs, Mr Hammond said while the original idea for the steering wheel was solid and remains at the core of their solution, his team was working on some minor changes.

"Instead of embedding a sensor into the wheel in a 10-2 configuration, we are investigating having sensors embedded around the wheel, in a 1-5 and 7-11; which will enable the device to record the driver's ECG regardless of their hand position,” Mr Hammond said.

During his research, Mr Hammond received a steering wheel from an old Kenworth 104 which is in his back shed.

"My parents bought it from a wrecker's yard in Wagga, and it's been very useful to gauge the size and configuration our solution needs to meet,” he said.

His team includes five Canberra-based people and four from the Gold Coast assisting to fine tune the steering wheel.

"We are very excited about it and are looking at getting some industry partners and while nothing is confirmed yet we have had some interest from several mining companies and a couple of local Government Councils,” Mr Hammond said.

Their desire is for industry partners to enable, assist and guide them as they continually build, test and refine the smart steering wheel technology.

Over the coming months, the team will continue to create, test and refine their prototype and have the final product available to be used in all makes of trucks.

The team will be heading to an ATA Safety Forum in Melbourne during October.

Meanwhile, two other teams which were part of the Hackathon are continuing to develop their concepts.

Team Global's concept involves wearable technology and a data sharing platform.

They won a spot in the BlueChilli and Coca-Cola Amatil Accelerate program - this is a six month start-up accelerator program.

And Team Comags are developing an application that could primarily provide actionable information on delays that truck drivers face throughout the chain.

"The ATA continues to support these teams through their incubation and development,” an ATA spokeswoman said.

"Team Comags and Augmented Intelligence will be attending the ATA Technology and Maintenance conference for a 'hack the hackers' type session where they can present their progress and concepts to an expert industry audience and receive technical feedback and assistance in problem solving.

"Global Where are unable to attend TMC due to their involvement in the Accelerate program.”

Mr Hammond said he was delighted that other teams were continuing to develop their concepts for the road transport industry.

Big Rigs

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