Face recognition software for locomotives

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Face recognition software for locomotives
Posted by Steve Sweeney on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:13 PM

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2017/09/19-railway-interchange

Shameless plug for News Wire, sorry. That said, I'm looking for a straight-face downside to installing this in a cab so I can go back and ask questions of Progress Rail. 

After all, you are in the control center of a company vehicle, on company time, working (for the company), and you are responsible for being safe. And, if you're not the assigned engineer or conductor, perhaps you won't be allowed to operate the locomotive. What's the pitfall that I'm missing?

Steve Sweeney
Associate Editor, Technology
TRAINS 

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Posted by BigJim on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:31 PM

Getting up to take a leak, get a drink of water, stretch one's legs, etc., etc. What about the Hostler or maintainence man moving the engine around? Kinda sounds to me like someone is trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn't exist

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, September 21, 2017 1:47 PM

What is the action that is taken when it detects fatigue?

What about false positives?

I can see a system in a car that looks at lane departure or steering inputs, but this seems like it would take a lot of fine tuning.

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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, September 21, 2017 5:53 PM

The downside would be keeping it calibrated.  Glasses on or off?  New glasses?  Hat on or off?  Which hat? Just had a melanoma removed on your nose?  Grew a beard?  Dyed your hair or got a new cut or perm?  

Evil doppleganger?  

Why go to all the trouble of facial recognition?  Why not just enter employee ID number and PIN set up by the employee?

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, September 21, 2017 11:54 PM

I've seen the system operating at a trade show.

I doesn't "recognise" faces as much as monitor the eyes, nose and mouth and their relative position in the cab. It is basically an automatic Vigilance or alerter system that doesn't require active input from the crew.

I'd expect that on detecting fatigue it might sound an alarm, like a normal alerter system, and if there is no response, apply the brakes.

It just avoids repetive use of an acknowledgement button which can in time become automatic regardless of actual fatigue.

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, September 22, 2017 12:17 AM

M636C

I've seen the system operating at a trade show.

I doesn't "recognise" faces as much as monitor the eyes, nose and mouth and their relative position in the cab. It is basically an automatic Vigilance or alerter system that doesn't require active input from the crew.

I'd expect that on detecting fatigue it might sound an alarm, like a normal alerter system, and if there is no response, apply the brakes.

It just avoids repetive use of an acknowledgement button which can in time become automatic regardless of actual fatigue.

Peter

 

Aha!  That sounds reasonable.  As Emily Littella would say, "Never mind!"

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 22, 2017 12:40 PM

Steve Sweeney
http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2017/09/19-railway-interchange

...I'm looking for a straight-face downside to installing this in a cab so I can go back and ask questions of Progress Rail.

I think this whole discussion is missing the boat (aside from that pun on 'straight-faced', which I mention strictly in passing).

If I'm not mistaken, this is tech and algorithms derived from Alex Zelinsky's company in Australia, and if so, the software is considerably more sophisticated than 'face-recognition' (as in cameras that recognize faces for adaptive focus) or 'face-tracking' (as in IxD eye-tracking or similar applications). 

What the software does is look for signs (probably progressive signs, but I have not seen the exact IP Progress is using) of fatigue in the operator.  Some of those signs might be nystagmus, change in blink interval, speed of accommodation to alerter or other stimuli, etc. -- I'm sure Progress will discuss this in more detail if you show you know something about the technical approach.

Yes, in my opinion this goes a long way toward implementing a better version of the functionality in early designs of 'alerter', and in fact would be seamlessly integrated with proper alerter technology to relieve the observed symptoms of fatigue rather than using the current 'default' fixed or variable alert interval (which is all too easily defeated by well-established characteristics of psychophysics, as posts here have repeatedly pointed out).

Personally I see no pitfall at all in using a tracking system to pick up on and detect actual fatigue.  The problem then becomes avoiding the temptation to (ab)use it in the ways posters have already brought up: to check that the engineman isn't on a phone, or looking someplace else too often, or has gone to nature call or look out the opposite gangway or something.  Or is a trespasser, or wearing proscribed headgear, or violates the dress code, or some other Mantle-Ridge-imposed Mickey Mouse "human relations department" requirement.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, September 22, 2017 9:45 PM

No problem at all.  Just have it programmed to send an alert to management.  Pull all the tapes and review all tapes in their entirety.  Pull as many out of service as you can (For any and all violations, no matter how you have to twist interpretations of rules.) thereby reducing headcount with out the bad PR of furloughing people.  The evidence can also be used to show how unreliable humans are and that they need to be replaced with automation.  A win-win situation!  

We have to log into PTC by using our employee ID and AVR (Automated Voice Response) PIN.

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Posted by BigJim on Saturday, September 23, 2017 8:01 AM

I'm glad that I am retired and don't have to put up with all of this stupid BS!

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, September 23, 2017 10:03 PM

BigJim

I'm glad that I am retired and don't have to put up with all of this stupid BS!

Between PTC and Trip Optimizer no one will have to put up with any of this one day, or so the companies hope.  That's the eventual target.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff that this will be abused.  CN already has Witronix set up to generate an alert any time a locomotive goes into emergency at over 10 mph, and then disciplines (demerits, suspensions) people for dumping the air even if no rules were violated and no damage was done. 

Next they will be disciplining you for adjusting the chair the chair the wrong way, or using one finger instead of the whole hand to manipulate the controls, wearing your hat and/or glasses in a way the computer doesn't like, or perhaps for drinking coffee in the cab (hot liquid, could spill some and burn yourself). 

Furthering discipline and the culture of fear is the real goal with 1984-esque systems like this.

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Posted by challenger3980 on Saturday, September 23, 2017 10:17 PM

BigJim

I'm glad that I am retired and don't have to put up with all of this stupid BS!

 

 

The Stupid BS, is infecting the trucking world as well. ELD/OBC's Electronic Logging Device/ On Board Computers, will be REQUIRED by most carriers on Dec 18th, 2017. 

My company just installed dash cameras with inward facing cameras on the account I serve earlier this summer. Those aren't required yet, but I will not be surprised if/when they are.

Fortunately, the camera installed in our tractors is above the bottom of a lowered visorBig Smile, so I just keep my center and right visors adjusted appropriatelySmile, Wink & Grin, as I have very sensitive eyesWink

Our cameras record on a short loop, and when a "Recordable Event" ocurs, it transmits a recording of approximately 15 seconds before the "Event" until approx 10 seconds following the event, to a third party who reviews it, and then forwards anything that they deem should be reviewed to my manager. That's the "Theory" anyways, last week while waiting between loads, one of my co-workers noticed the red "Recording" light was on, on her camera, she had been sitting idle for quite awhile, with no "Event" that should have triggered her camera. Needless to say her eyes got very sensitive as well, and her visors started getting more use as well.

 I've been a Professional Driver for about 30 years now, and like a lot of working rails, the job just isn't what it used to be, and I wouldn't recommend it to a young person starting out any more. Even with the old company, before they sold our plant, a little over a year ago, it was still a career that I enjoyed, I had Hoped it was going to be a retirement job, with the Old company, now it is looking like it is going to be a LOOOOONG 15 years or so to retirementSigh.

Doug

May your flanges always stay BETWEEN the rails

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, September 25, 2017 8:25 AM

As a perhaps interesting addition to this story, comes this story from Machine Design magazine.

That story is concerned with essentially 'passive' biometrics, and not the progressive analysis the fatigue-tracking solution would be using, but some of the issues it brings up could very likely be used if there is 'abuse' of inward-facing camera data from fatigue or other applications...

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, September 25, 2017 2:35 PM

SD70M-2Dude

 

 
BigJim

I'm glad that I am retired and don't have to put up with all of this stupid BS!

 

 

Between PTC and Trip Optimizer no one will have to put up with any of this one day, or so the companies hope.  That's the eventual target.

The conductor I worked with today told me a few trips back he had a test team ride with them.  The engine they were on had PTC and Trip Optimizer integrated into the same screen.  The Techs were happily saying soon they'll have T-O be able to start and stop the train, making air brake applications.  I asked the condr if he asked the Test Team how they felt about eventually putting people out of work.  He said he hadn't thought about that, but that it would be a good question to ask.  

I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff that this will be abused.  CN already has Witronix set up to generate an alert any time a locomotive goes into emergency at over 10 mph, and then disciplines (demerits, suspensions) people for dumping the air even if no rules were violated and no damage was done. 

Next they will be disciplining you for adjusting the chair the chair the wrong way, or using one finger instead of the whole hand to manipulate the controls, wearing your hat and/or glasses in a way the computer doesn't like, or perhaps for drinking coffee in the cab (hot liquid, could spill some and burn yourself). 

Depends on which finger you use.  Might be an EEO violation if you use the wrong one.  One service unit banned crews from heating canned food on the engine's sidewall heaters.  One person was burned when he opened the can and the contents boiled over onto him.

Furthering discipline and the culture of fear is the real goal with 1984-esque systems like this.

 

Jeff

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, September 25, 2017 3:00 PM

challenger3980

 

 
BigJim

I'm glad that I am retired and don't have to put up with all of this stupid BS!

 

 

 

 

The Stupid BS, is infecting the trucking world as well. ELD/OBC's Electronic Logging Device/ On Board Computers, will be REQUIRED by most carriers on Dec 18th, 2017. 

My company just installed dash cameras with inward facing cameras on the account I serve earlier this summer. Those aren't required yet, but I will not be surprised if/when they are.

Fortunately, the camera installed in our tractors is above the bottom of a lowered visorBig Smile, so I just keep my center and right visors adjusted appropriatelySmile, Wink & Grin, as I have very sensitive eyesWink

Our cameras record on a short loop, and when a "Recordable Event" ocurs, it transmits a recording of approximately 15 seconds before the "Event" until approx 10 seconds following the event, to a third party who reviews it, and then forwards anything that they deem should be reviewed to my manager. That's the "Theory" anyways, last week while waiting between loads, one of my co-workers noticed the red "Recording" light was on, on her camera, she had been sitting idle for quite awhile, with no "Event" that should have triggered her camera. Needless to say her eyes got very sensitive as well, and her visors started getting more use as well.

 I've been a Professional Driver for about 30 years now, and like a lot of working rails, the job just isn't what it used to be, and I wouldn't recommend it to a young person starting out any more. Even with the old company, before they sold our plant, a little over a year ago, it was still a career that I enjoyed, I had Hoped it was going to be a retirement job, with the Old company, now it is looking like it is going to be a LOOOOONG 15 years or so to retirementSigh.

Doug

 

Our new EMDs (or whatever they call themselves now) have the inward facing camera over the engineer's side windshield towards the center of locomotive.  The latest ones have a modified visor that can't be rotated up enough to block the camera.  Ours can record continuously and hold (IIRC) 36 hours before recording over previous images.  Cell phone detectors are being installed with them and if usage is detected it "stamps" the time and sends an alert to management so the recordings can be reviewed. 

I've heard, but can't verify, that the cameras are wired directly to the battery, bypassing the battery knife switch.  Allowing them to record even with the engine shutdown and the knife switch pulled.

Jeff 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 10:47 PM

As a possible alternative to the detection of fatigue with 'face-tracking', here is a transport-related approach using ECG-like data:

https://www.rdmag.com/article/2017/09/novel-steering-wheel-tech-uses-ecg-detect-drowsy-drivers

Precisely how this could be adapted to locomotive cabs and controls is an interesting design exercise, perhaps including the kind of conductive gloves that permit capacitive touch-panel use. 

I'm sure alert readers will spot one issue before they read very far: there's all sorts of information in the captured signal that nosy insurers or HR people with agendas can use to cause trouble.  Atrial fib would be one fairly easy to detect condition that could be used as a nifty excuse.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 12:12 AM

Yeah- HR is a dark hole where information gets sucked in and NEVER comes out. 

Bells Palsey can also be deceiving, it can lessen and worsen over hours.

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