The Safe Cap looks like a common American-style baseball cap at first sight. However, it comes equipped with sensors that are capable of interpreting the driver’s head movements to warn if the user is tired or sleepy behind the wheel.
The cap makes three kinds of alert signals, vibration, sound and light flashes, to tell the driver to stop for a rest before continuing with the trip. The hat is able to differentiate between movements related to normal work routine and movements that indicate drowsiness. A CPU in the hat relies on signals from an accelerometer and a gyroscope to identify each type of situation.
The novelty was presented as part of the celebration of 60 years of production of Ford’s Trucks in Brazil.
Ford tested the Safe Cap for eight months by a selected group of drivers for more than 5,000 km in real driving conditions.
The prototype remains under test; patenting and certification processes will follow. Ford says that there are currently no plants for its production and commercialisation in short and medium term. However, Ford has shown interest in sharing this technology with partners and customers to advance its development and enable its market introduction.
Lyle Watters, president of Ford South America, said: “Ford is the first automotive company to think about creating a wearable device for drivers to use for the time when they are behind the wheel that can contribute to prevent accidents. This way, we are able to reinforce our commitment on bringing embedded technology not only for vehicles, but also through accessories that are capable of making the lives of drivers easier and the focus on safety as a priority in our technology investments.”
A survey of truck drivers last year by the Brazilian National Transport Confederation revealed that more than 60% consider their activity dangerous. They ride for about 10,000 km per month and close to 45% have already received an offer of some kind of illicit drug or substance, mainly in fuel stations. Additionally, more than 11% were involved in at least one collision within the last few years.
The survey also shows that these professionals have an average age of 44 and have been in the profession for 18 years. The average age of the trucks used is almost 14 years.
Among their concerns are the cost of the fuel (46.4%), the low price of freight (40.1%) and the possibility of being robbed (37.6%). As positive points, they mentioned mainly the possibility of knowing new places (47%) and meeting new people (33%).