Two Emirati students get AED 1M funding to develop driver safety software
Priya Wadhwa
What's the Deal

Two Emirati students get AED 1M funding to develop driver safety software

Part of the Future Medical Stars programme, they will soon sell the technology once ready.

Truck drivers are a huge risk on the roads. Not because of the size of the vehicles but because most of them work overtime and extreme long hours to earn enough money for their families. Being part of the unskilled labour force pushes them to sleep fewer hours than healthy and work longer, putting them as well as others on the road in danger.

This is not just the case for truck drivers, but everyone who is driving whilst tired or sleepy.

Given the UAE’s high road accident rates, two Emirati students, Ahmed Al Mansouri and Khaled Al Dhaheri are out to develop a tech solution to address this risk.

They are developing a software that uses an Internet of Things (IoT) device attached to the rearview mirror and linked to a smartphone application. The device’s camera scans the driver’s face and tracks eye movement to detect whether the driver is falling asleep; such as when the driver is blinking a lot, closing his eyes, or when there is a head-tilt in the manner suggesting the driver is dozing off.

When it detects these, there is a loud beep or siren from the mobile phone that alerts and awakens the driver to concentrate on the road.

This life-saving technology with significant possibilities has won the Emirati duo AED 1 million under the Future Medical Stars programme to further develop the system and use deep learning to strengthen the detection.

The Future Medical Stars programme is operated by VPS Healthcare and Al Bayt Mitwahid Association

Similar technology is now present in latest high-end cars. However, it is the trucks, big buses, or even cargo vans that are an issue. As they do not have this technology and their drivers are ones working longer journeys and hours.

Once the technology is developed and tested out, the Future Medical Stars team will help the Emirati students to sell their technology. Pankaj Paul, director of strategy and innovation at VPS, told The National that they would be initially focused on selling it to insurance agencies as they take up significant financial burden of motor accidents, or even hospitals to use in their ambulance vehicles.

The technology being developed, if successful and implemented in lorries, trucks and commercial transport vehicles, could be taken further to give employers, law enforcement and government agencies, insurance companies and even police a better picture of driver safety, reduce fatalities and help drivers be more vigilant when undertaking the job.