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How one Singapore company is keeping drivers safe

TNT Surveillance’s technology is being deployed by bus and port operators to reduce driver fatigue and prevent accidents using cameras and radar sensors

In 2013, two siblings crossing a road junction while on a bicycle in Singapore were killed by a cement mixer truck in a fatal accident that recast the spotlight on road safety in the city-state. That incident left a deep impact on Joshua Tan, the founder of Singapore technology firm TNT Surveillance (TNTS).

At the time, TNTS had been supplying CCTV (closed circuit TV) surveillance systems, but Tan, a father of two boys, decided to pivot the company’s offerings towards technology that improves road safety.

The technology would address one of the most common causes of road accidents in Singapore – distracted driving, whether it is caused by fatigue or using a mobile phone while on the move. The Singapore Police Force estimates that nearly 4,000 injuries and fatalities occurred from drivers failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to have proper control in 2018.

Today, TNTS’s key solutions cover anti-distraction and fatigue, blind spot detection and a 360-degree surround view system. Using a combination of cameras and radar sensors, they can notify drivers of people or vehicles in their own vehicle’s blind spots, or if they are showing signs of fatigue.

In addition, a driver can be warned of an impending forward collision up to 2.7 seconds before a possible accident with a stationary vehicle, giving the driver more time to react to the dangers ahead.

But TNTS is not just supplying its technology to vehicle fleet operators – it also offers a 24-hour command centre service for those that do not have fleet management capabilities.

Through the service, TNTS will help fleet operators track their vehicles in real time and enable them to stay in contact with their vehicles and drivers at all times. With telemetry data, they will also be able to track the performance of their fleets.

Port operator PSA Singapore is currently using TNTS’s technology to detect signs of fatigue among prime mover drivers.

“If a driver closes his eyes for 1.2 seconds, an event trigger will be activated,” said Casey Liu, CEO of TNTS, adding that this time frame was derived after a testing phase to reduce false positives and improve the technology’s accuracy through machine learning.

Besides PSA Singapore, it also counts clients such as Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, which has deployed its systems on about 10,000 buses operated by SBS Transit, SMRT, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead Singapore. The company aims to have 100,000 vehicles with its solutions plying the roads by 2022.

Liu, a former General Electric executive who joined TNTS three years ago, stressed that to get buy-in from drivers, the company’s technology has been designed to help drivers stay safe rather than catch errant behaviour. “We are here to improve their safety system; bus captains know that the system is here to prevent unnecessary accidents,” he said.

The company has also received a grant from Enterprise Singapore, a government agency that champions enterprise development, to expand its reach into other sectors, such as building and construction, where companies operate large fleets of heavy vehicles and passenger trucks.

“A small truck usually carries five to 10 workers who do not have safety belts, so imagine what would happen if there was harsh braking – that’s one area that we’re addressing,” said Liu.

After seeing success at home, TNTS, which raked in revenues of about S$15m last year, is now eyeing markets such as China, the UK, Australia and the Middle East, while tailoring its solutions for electric vehicles that are increasingly being deployed in Singapore and elsewhere. Liu said the company was looking to grow its revenues to between S$30m and S$40m in the next three years.

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