Tackling Fatigue Detection for PSA Truck Drivers
An InnoVenture Team’s Success Story
By Chua Zhijie, Student Writer
PSA unboXed is PSA International’s corporate venture capital arm that invests in start-ups with innovations that bring strategic value to PSA. As their secondary mission is the cultivation of the next generation of entrepreneurs by working with institutes of higher learning, they offered their office & co-working space as venue for the pitch. As one of the problem statement providers for InnoVenture 2016, PSA was interested in seeing the winning team pitch their solution. The panel consisted of Mr. Oh Bee Lock (PSA’s Head of Group Technology), 2 Managing Directors in charge of the terminals in Singapore, and several heads of departments who are vital in the continuation and realization of solution.
The invited team, Subtle Safety, is composed of Jaipal Singh and Christoph Zimmermann. Both Year 2 Material Science undergraduate students, Jaipal and Christoph signed up individually for the competition, attracted by the structure of the competition and challenging problem statements. The budding entrepreneurs hit it off very well after attending one of the InnoVenture Bootcamps and hence decided to embark on a shared InnoVenture journey – they have never looked back since.
PSA’s terminals in Singapore run 24/7 and port workers have to cope with 8-12 hour shifts. Many port workers have jobs that are physically demanding and require mental focus . For example, truck drivers complete thousands of trips every day in Singapore’s port alone to ensure a smooth flow of containers to destinations worldwide. Mental alertness is critical to do a job well and to respond quickly in any circumstance. PSA is keen to explore systems that would detect and warn truck drivers and fleet managers of signs of fatigue, so that steps can be taken before mishaps occur. Avoiding accidents reduces the costs incurred and improves the overall efficiency of the company.
The team pitched their solution clearly outlining the problem, how their solution would differentiate itself from competitors in terms of technology and value, the product development timeline, and most importantly the market size and relevance for PSA. What impressed the panel most was the team’s analysis and subsequent rephrasing of the problem statement. Rather than focus on symptoms of fatigue in drivers, the team focused on “irregular driving patterns” which they could pick up with various sensors for the driver and the truck. Based on the data gathered, a more accurate analysis as to the cause and recommendations to prevent reoccurrences can be made. A driver falling asleep, being distracted, drunk, or a truck with a punctured tire will show similar irregularities, but they are definitely not the same! The team further impressed the panel by showcasing a self-made truck cabin simulator in which they can test their solution.
Being impressed by the team’s creativity, perseverance and enthusiasm for solving the problem, and appreciating that the team’s lab-scale prototype would need further validation on technological feasibility and business viability, PSA offered the team the opportunity for incubation through their PSA unboXed’s Technology Incubator Program! The program includes use of PSA unboXed facilities (workspace and mentors), access to port resources (truck drivers and equipment) and as well as S$50,000 in funding to continue the project.
The team has accepted the offer and is excited and eager to take their solution forward and apply their solution in a live port environment. Congratulations to Subtle Safety!
InnoVenture, the annual technopreneurship competition of the Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Singapore, challenges students to solve real engineering problems faced by real companies (www.innoventure.com.sg). Students from all faculties and graduate levels are allowed to participate in the competition. They are guided through the process of creating successful products and potentially companies in hands-on experiential learning workshops and one-on-one mentor sessions. The process and methodology focuses on demonstrating solutions that are Customer Desirable, Technologically Feasible and Business Viable.