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The Intelliseat developed by Harita Seating in association with IIT-M aims at minimising accidents by detecting driver fatigue.

Story & Photos:

Bhargav TS

In order to reduce road accidents due to driver fatigue, Harita Seating Systems Limited (HSSL), and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), have developed ‘Intelliseat’, an Internet of Things (IoT) device that monitors the performance and behaviour of the driver. To develop Intelliseat, HSSL joined hands with IITM two years ago. Operating independently, and capable of providing vehicle information like vehicle location, Intelliseat can be used for driver training and fleet risk evaluation as well. Capable of influencing fleet insurance and ownership costs, Intelliseat is expected to present Harita Seating a unique advantage.

Specialising in the manufacture of truck and tractor seats, the improvement of automotive seating system, particularly for the driver, has been a priority at HSSL. The company found out during its interaction with drivers and other industry stakeholders that professional drivers spend most of their time behind the wheel, and experience considerable fatigue. In case of people carriers, drivers experience more fatigue than the passengers experience. On an average, a truck or bus is driven for 10 hours a day. The drivers sometime tend to drive continuously, causing fatigue and leading to an accident. Developed as a performance monitoring tool, Intelliseat is engineered to detect fatigue. It will subsequently warn the driver, and signal him to take a break. This, in turn, would eliminate the possibility of an accident. Expressed AG Giridharan, President, HSSL, “Improvement of an automotive seating system, particularly that of the driver, is important to us.”

Developed at the Rehabilitation Bioengineering Group, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, Intelliseat, according to Prof. Venkatesh Balasubramanian, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, was developed over a span of two years. A team from Harita and IIT Madras translated the conceptual work in the lab to a viable solution that can be productionised and applied. Expected to make roads safer, and have an impact on driver benchmarking (training) and fleet insurance, Intelliseat, developed to operate independent of any other system in the vehicle, can be used for in-vehicle information and tracking. Capable of being used for driver training and fleet risk evaluation, Intelliseat starts functioning as soon as the driver occupies it. The sensors detect his or her presence, and send a warning signal if there is a movement. When the sensor senses minor fatigue, the driver is notified with a red signal on the dashboard. When the system senses a moderate fatigue, a chime goes of. If the situation goes out of control and the driver is close to dozing off, the Intelliseat vibrates. This makes a compelling reason for the driver to stop.

According to Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, India has an unconscionably high rate of traffic accidents, and technologies that can reduce accidents due to driver fatigue are sorely needed. Tested in South India, Intelliseat will soon began testing in other parts of the country. Taking into account driver performance and behaviour, which is greatly influenced by physical and cognitive factors, Intelliseat, according to Ramamurthi, will elevate safety. The system’s contribution would be to curb accidents by understanding driver behaviour, fatigue, and performance slippage. Appropriate intervention to avoid road accident looks like the best remedy.

Said C N Prasad, Director, HSSL, “It has always been the endeavour of Harita Seating to develop cost-effective technologies, which are relevant to the immediate Indian context. The joint development opportunity with IIT Madras for the Intelliseat showcases the results of such an endeavour. I hope that this innovation will lead to safer roads and reduce the risk of accidents due to driver fatigue.”

Suppling seats to Ashok Leyland, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, John Deere, M&M, Mercedes-Benz Buses, AMW, New Holland, TAFE, Tata Marcopolo and Tata Motors, HSSL has six plants in India. The mother plant is in Hosur. The other plants of the company are at Pune, Jamshedpur, Dharwad, Chennai and Pantnagar.

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With the National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB, 2016) report put this number of road accidents to 464,674 cases in India in 2015 (a detailed study of accidents by researchers had them attribute 40 per cent deaths to human error, which often translates into driver fatigue), the Harita Intelliseat looks like an innovation that will provide the right solution to curb accidents in India that happen due to driver fatigue.


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