Clean Sky project leverages AI to monitor pilot drowsiness

Clean Sky project leverages AI to monitor pilot drowsiness

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The HIPNOSIS consortium aims to improve the evaluation of pilot fatigue using a specific vision-based system combined with a bio-physiological signal sensor. The safety kit consisting of smart cameras and wearable electronics will enable the real-time detection of signs of drowsiness, thus improving fatigue-risk management for long flights.  

Last November, an Australian pilot fell asleep while operating a passenger flight, overshooting its destination by 50 kilometers. A few months earlier, in the US, investigators found that an air disaster had been narrowly avoided in San Francisco the previous year. Once again, the danger had been brought about by a pilot’s lack of sleep. Human fatigue is a serious issue affecting the safety of the traveling public in all modes of transportation. Nearly 20 percent of the major US Transportation Safety Board investigations completed between 2001 and 2012 identified fatigue as a probable cause, contributing factor, or a finding. HIPNOSIS won the tender launched by the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, a European research program dedicated to aeronautics.

“We will implement computer vision and machine learning algorithms in order to detect signs of drowsiness in pilots in real time”, explained Andrea Dunbar, head of Embedded Vision Systems at CSEM. These algorithms will be integrated into a specific camera developed by the French startup Innov+, which already commercializes similar solutions for the automotive industry.

“CSEM will also use its know-how in the measurement of physiological parameters to develop a wearable sensor that monitors pilots before and during a flight,” added Dunbar. “The collected data will be fused with eye-gaze-related measures as well as head pose, observed by the vision system.” French company SERMA Ingénierie will be in charge of integrating HIPNOSIS into a cockpit prototype for preliminary testing.

Clean Sky II core partner Honeywell Aerospace is the one to define the requirements for the technology to integrate it into the overall pilot monitoring system. Final results are expected in 2021. Clean Sky is a public–private partnership between the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry, aiming to strengthen European leadership in aviation, focusing on the reduction of aircraft noise and CO2 and NOX emissions while promoting collaboration, global leadership, and competitiveness. Over 36 months the HIPNOSIS project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program will have access to EUR 800,000 grant.


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