Global construction and mining equipment company Caterpillar has signed an agreement with technology company Seeing Machines, for in-cab Fatigue Monitoring Systems for use in mining vehicles.

The exclusive deal, with a multi-phase approach, covers the use of eye-tracking technology in the cabs of mining machines to protect drivers from ‘asleep at the wheel’ syndrome.

Initially, the agreement covers supply and support of the Fatigue Monitoring Systems via the global Cat Dealer network, and will eventually progresses to further phases that involve joint product development and technology licensing agreements.

Caterpillar Global Mining Safety Solutions manager David Edwards said, "Seeing Machines delivers both safety and productivity benefits to the mining industry. Going forward we see even closer integration between what in-cab fatigue monitoring can deliver in both intervention alerts and analytics to improve safety and performance."

Although fatigue management has been identified as a key health and safety issue by the mining companies, there is limited technology available at present to protect the workers from this risk.

Based on patented eye-tracking technology, the Seeing Machines Fatigue Monitoring System can detect if a driver is distracted or falling asleep at the wheel.

With the help of sensing equipment, the system tracks head alignment for potential distraction of the driver while simultaneously tracking and analyzing eye behavior to detect micro sleeps.

This enables warnings to be sent through in-cab alerts, or for alerts to be provided to site managers for direct intervention.

The new agreement is expected to provide greater integration of the Fatigue Monitoring Systems with Cat MineStar System in order to allow data on fatigue and distraction integrate into the overall management functions of the mine and business.