Product profile: High tech camera monitoring

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer and supplied

Commercial operators have an ever-increasing suite of high-tech camera monitoring systems at their disposal to help keep staff safe on the road

One such advanced system, from Cloud Vehicle Technology Ltd, is currently being trialled by a large-scale fleet operator, Davis Food Ingredients.

Davis Food Group can view footage in real time or store it for playback and download on demand

The Multifaceted distribution company is currently trialling innovative new camera technology in a bid to increase driver safety and better protect its significant fleet investment.

The new system, supplied by Cloud Vehicle Technology Ltd, uses up to eight individually-linked HD cameras to provide unprecedented coverage of the trial trucks from all angles.

Combined, the new system run by Davis Food Ingredients offers a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the truck in any environment and real-time footage from in front, behind, and down both sides of the vehicle, as well as inside the cab and, if desired, from inside the trailer unit as well.

Up to eight individually-linked HD cameras to provide unprecedented coverage of the trial trucks from all angles

The truck- and trailer-mounted cameras also incorporate clever Around-View Mode (AVM) technology, meaning that in playback, the viewer can control the footage and move the focus to a particular part of the camera view.

"The end result is total coverage of the truck from pretty much every angle," says Andy Slater of Cloud Vehicle Technology Ltd.

"AVM capability really moves this system on from just a generic plug-and-play monitoring system. In playback, if an incident occurs below or off to the side of any of the cameras’ pre-set focus, the transport manager or business owner can toggle the view anywhere within the camera’s field of vision.

The system is completely modular, and the camera count can be specified by the individual customer

"The system relies on high-definition video, too, so there is no loss of clarity in the image. This makes for accurate assessment of any on-road incident and gives the operator the necessary recorded evidence if needed. In most circumstances, the system is clear enough to read the number plates of vehicles in the opposing lane of travel."

Andy says that AVM also allows the viewer to zoom in and out of the picture and to play and record larger areas of footage within the frame. The entire system relies on online live view, with file data of up to 4TB stored remotely. Users access the cameras through a desktop dashboard displaying configurable amounts of data or camera views at a time.

360-degree view

The system offers a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the truck in any environment and real-time footage

Fahed Rehman, operations and transport manager for Davis Food Ingredients, says that while the company uses other systems on a variety of trucks, he has been impressed with the coverage Cloud Vehicle Technology’s solution offers.

Davis Food Ingredients is currently running the new system on two of its long-haul trucks: one based in Auckland and the other in Palmerston North.

"We want all of our drivers to be as safe as possible as well as do everything we can to protect our fleet investment," says Fahed. "Accidents often turn into exercises in blame allocation. But if we have the ability to defend our driver’s actions in an incident, then we’ll use it. This camera system can provide that ability."

Fahed says that Davis Food Ingredients and its sister company currently run between 180 and 190 trucks around the country.

Fahed Rehman, operations and transport manager, Davis Food Ingredients

The system is completely modular, and the camera count can be specified by the individual customer. But Fahed does say the trial drivers are especially enjoying the 360-degree surround view the system provides, mitigating every blind spot for more accurate manoeuvring in tight urban drop-off or collection zones.

The camera system provides all the benefits of GPS tracking (including route map playback) with powerful video and recording capabilities in high-definition 1080P (front view) and 720P (rear-facing).

A built-in supercapacitor for power ensures video of critical incidents is stored and accessible via desktop or, as an option, via 3G/4G internet connection on a smartphone.

Thanks to the system’s G-sensor, the cameras begin ‘emergency’ recording if an undue ‘shock’ is registered. These files can’t be overwritten either, helping ensure an adequate overview of any incident.

Further to the exterior-mounted cameras, Fahed says he’s impressed with the internal trailer camera, too, especially given that one of the trial trucks is running a refrigerated unit.

This refrigerated unit can even boast an internal camera, capable of operating in sub-zero temperatures

"The camera inside the refrigerated unit can operate perfectly at temperatures as low as minus 25°C. This means we can keep an eye on stock without any risk of lens fogging obscuring the view," he says.

"Just like the other cameras, we can view this footage in real time or store it for playback and download on demand. The system gives us a couple of months’ worth of recording at a time, and then we can pull the hard drive unit out of the truck and replace it.

"Overall, we’re very impressed. We have a lot of drivers with our company logo on their truck, so while we have a reputation for excellent service, we also want to have a reputation for excellent safety."

In-cab fatigue monitoring system

Users can even monitor cameras on their smartphone

Cloud Vehicle Technology Ltd is looking forward to rolling out more of its advanced camera systems to transport operators around the country during 2019, but Andy Slater says the innovations don’t end there.

"We have also launched into the New Zealand market an impressive fatigue monitoring system, which we’re sure will become a useful safety tool for any long-haul transporter or freight forwarder.

"The system is essentially based around advanced facial recognition software along with G-sensor motion detection, which work together to continually monitor the driver for signs of fatigue, drowsiness or distraction while driving," he says.

Housed in a slimline unit, the system utilises high-powered infrared LED scanning sensors which use special filters to remove irregular reflections of sunlight. Conversely, the driver fatigue alert system will also work at night and is intelligent enough to recognise sunglasses as well, adjusting its sensitivity to suit.

Andy says the driver fatigue system works with both a DC12-volt and 24-volt fitting and is suitable for any commercial vehicle. It also supports various USB accessories, with warning lights or vibration alerts able to be used in conjunction.

"It’s a familiar scenario for many operators. There is a massive amount of work to get through and only so many hours in the day to do it. I think the fatigue alert system will be beneficial to larger companies and owner-operators alike; it’s a safeguard against over-stretching drivers.

"In 98% of heavy truck versus passenger vehicle accidents in which there is a fatality, the deceased driver is in the passenger vehicle. No truck driver or freight company wants such an overwhelmingly tragic incident on their hands.

"In these times where health and safety have become of utmost importance to every commercial operation, systems like these are genuinely helping both save lives and maintain reputations," he concludes.

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