Railways Developing Innovative Device to Detect Driver Drowsiness, Reveals Report

The device is still in the developing stage

New Delhi: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is in the process of creating an artificial intelligence-driven device designed to monitor train drivers’ eye movements and respond to signs of drowsiness. This initiative was initiated by the Railway Board in June, with the aim of gauging driver alertness by observing their eye blinks.

The device, known as the Railway Driver Assistance System (RDAS), is not only capable of issuing alerts but can also engage emergency braking if a driver exhibits signs of prolonged inattentiveness. To facilitate this feature, RDAS will be integrated with a vigilance control mechanism, sources said.

“The device is still in the development stage and trials are on to ensure its proper functioning. The technical team of the NFR is working on it. We hope that it will be ready in another few weeks,” a railway source told media.

On August 2, the Railway Board communicated with the NFR, urging them to accelerate the in-house development of RDAS (Railway Driver Assistance System). Furthermore, it outlined plans to deploy the device in 20 goods train engines (WAG9) and passenger train engines (WAP7) as an initial trial.

All railway zones have also been instructed to provide feedback on the system’s performance once implemented, with the aim of making necessary improvements.

“Each high-speed train engine is equipped with a foot-operated lever (pedal) that requires the driver to activate it every 60 seconds. If the driver neglects to do so, the system automatically engages the emergency brakes, bringing the train to a stop. This existing system effectively guarantees driver attentiveness,” said IRLRO working president Sanjay Pandhi.

“I consider the implementation of RDAS to be an ineffective endeavor. If the railway system genuinely prioritizes train operation safety, it should, in addition to other measures, undertake comprehensive studies on factors like driver fatigue, working hours, amenities, and rest periods.”

“Often, drivers, including female ones, don’t have the opportunity for breaks to eat or attend to personal needs during their extended 11-hour shifts. If these aspects are adequately addressed, there would be no necessity for the inclusion of RDAS in the locomotives,” Pandhi said.

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