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DOST developing app that determines if a truck driver is roadworthy

DOST developing app that determines if a truck driver is roadworthy

Tessa R. Salazar

Despite the amazing capacity of the human brain to store, process, and analyze phenomenal amounts of information and then act upon them, it still has its limits, especially in circumstances that involve precise interactions with other human brains.

Take, for example, the traffic situation. The limited scope of a human being’s decision-making ability to determine optimum traffic conditions at any given time contributes much to the chaotic state of the country’s roadways, particularly in congested urban settings. Flawed decisions also play major factors in numerous road mishaps. Your brain—depending solely on your body’s natural senses of seeing and hearing—simply can’t predict what’s literally around the bend. You will need another “brain”, which sees and hears what you can’t, to guide you.

That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) is supposed to come in. The internet defines AI as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”. In the transportation industry, AI has been applied to numerous aspects, foremost of which are vehicle, pedestrian, and driver safety.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recognizes the potential of AI to contribute immensely to human progress, which is why it has embarked on developing programs to integrate AI in almost all sectors.
On June 24, via a virtual conference streamed in the DOST-Science for Change Program (S4CP) Facebook page, the DOST launched several programs and technologies in support of the AI National Roadmap on health, industry, agriculture, aquatic technologies and several other sectors.

Themed: “AI for a better normal,” the conference also featured the development of an app for traffic management, Driver Ph. The Driver Ph app has been developed by the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP) for its private partner Quicktrans Cargo Moving Inc, under the auspices of the DOST-S4CP Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (Cradle) and the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

The ongoing development of Driver Ph (which stands for “Drivers’ Roadworthiness Improvement, Verification, Education, and Readiness for the Philippine Logistics Industry”) that began January this year aims to combine information communication technology (ICT) solutions to monitor and record the behaviors of drivers. These behaviors are manifested and measured in terms of vehicle acceleration, stopping, and turning. It will also determine the degree of knowledge of drivers through gamified assessment, with emphasis on technical driving and vehicle roadworthiness know-how.

Driver Ph is designed to monitor truck drivers. The app is composed of two parts, both of which assess and evaluate drivers’ competence and skill.

The first part is composed of online learning/educational modules, mobile learning applications, and gamified applications which educate the drivers and evaluate the person’s preparedness to drive a truck on public roads.
The second part evaluates drivers’ on-road behavior. Trucks registered to the app are equipped with an IoT (internet of things) device that gathers real-time data such as location, speed, and acceleration. These data are then sent to a cloud server to be processed by an AI system to determine whether such information has contributed to certain traffic violations committed by the driver.

This information is then stored and analyzed for recurring patterns, and eventually serve as the basis for an objective, scientific evaluation of the drivers’ competence.

The project aims to minimize road accidents caused by the biggest—and most dangerous—vehicles on the road. After the app and the onboard devices are tested and synched online, Quicktrans Cargo Moving will then adopt the technology and apply the system to its drivers.

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DOST informed this writer that Driver Ph is still in its development stage, with the project slated for a December 2021 target completion. Under the Cradle framework, a higher education institution (HEI) and a research and development (R&D) institution—in this case TIP—provided R&D solutions.

DOST added that it would be up to the Collaborative Research Agreement (CRA) of the involved parties if Driver Ph would be made available to other private companies. Quicktrans Moving, as the partner company, provided at least 20 percent of the counterpart funding for the project.

“Since 1958, DOST has worked on building the country’s research and development (R&D) capabilities, infrastructure and capitalizing on human resource development in identified priority areas in the fields of agriculture and aquatic, health, energy, industry and emerging technologies, among others,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña. “AI has been included among our R&D priorities since 2016. It is one of the important technologies that will guide and prepare us in what we call the fourth industrial revolution.”

DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara added, “Through R&D, DOST aspires to aid various government stakeholders develop data-driven AI-enabled solutions that will help enhance government functions and delivery of its services to the Filipino people. AI is bound to change our lives. We need to continuously promote R&D and its useful outputs to ensure that all Filipinos benefit from science and technology. This is the way R&D can positively change our country and the world.”