A new safety kit is in development to facilitate real-time monitoring of the telltale signs of drowsiness. It is composed of smart cameras and wearable electronics, and it is hoped that by deploying it in commercial passenger aircraft there will be an increase in the safety records of the global aviation industry.

State-of-the-art tech

The kit is developed by the HIPNOSIS consortium, with the sole mission of improving the evaluation of fatigue levels in pilot through a series of innovative tools. The combination of a specialised vision-based system and bio-physiological signal sensors will give an accurate assessment of whether a pilot is becoming dangerously drowsy during a flight. HIPNOSIS was able to develop the kit after winning an EU tender, as part of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, which is an EU research programme dedicated entirely to aeronautics.

The head of CSEM’s Embedded Vision Systems says the AI device will “Deploy computer visual systems alongside machine learning algorithms to monitor signs of pilot drowsiness in real time.” The algorithms in question will be integrated into a highly specialised camera developed by French startup Innov+, which has already begun commercialising similar systems for the automotive industry.

Analysing the telltale signs

CSEM has extensive knowledge in the measuring of physiological parameters, which it will also utilise to develop wearable sensors that monitor pilots before a flight, and throughout the duration. The data it collects will be combined with eye-gaze-related factors as well as the position of the head, as observed by the computer vision system.

It will be the responsibility of French company SERMA Ingénierie to integrate the HIPNOSIS system into a cockpit prototype to facilitate preliminary testing. Clean Sky 2 Core Partner Honeywell Aerospace, a leader in solutions for avionics and aerospace, will do the work to integrate this technology into a comprehensive pilot monitoring system. It is hoped that HIPNOSIS will deliver fundamental enablers for the launch of pilot monitoring, and for making this kind of technology into a reality for the aviation sector. The building blocks provided by HIPNOSIS could be critical to successfully illustrating the potential benefit of advanced pilot monitoring to aviation safety.

The project is targeting a completion date in 2021.