The quest for road safety started the movement toward smart driving, beginning with the first post-crash safety technology, which provided seat belts and crumple zones in cars. Since then, automotive safety technology has moved from mitigation after a crash toward pre-crash safety technology that actively prevents crashes from occurring. Additional safety benefits are realized by utilizing a “sensor fusion” approach that combines existing sensors to introduce new functions without the need for additional expensive hardware.
The next logical step begins the movement toward autonomous driving: integrating sensors and intelligence for wide ranging in-vehicle sensor fusion, interpretation of integrated sensor output, improvement of image recognition algorithms, and autopilot functions. Given what is technologically feasible today, it will not be a huge leap to achieve some limited autopilot functionality by integrating sensors and intelligence in otherwise disparate systems, such as lane keeping, intelligent cruise control and collision prevention technology.
We don’t need to wait for the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles before we can enjoy the safety benefits that transition will bring.
The first incarnation of the autonomous car (or other vehicle) will be most likely in the military sector where the loss of life and resources justify the significant investment. The next sector that will most likely adopt these technologies en masse includes businesses such as large mining operations that need to continuously transport material over unpaved roads in remote places – we already see successful pilots in this space by companies such as Rio Tinto. And finally in major metropolitan areas, where traffic today is a mess, we could have a much higher quality of life as well as much greater reductions in car ownership, by combining autonomous driving with innovative shared vehicle services and algorithms.
Despite the excitement in the news about driverless, fully connected, or autonomous cars, these technologies will not be readily available in the mainstream to the public for many years to come because a) it’s very costly, b) required technology is still in its early stages, c) there is no massive market pull, and d) most of these technologies require an ecosystem that is not in place to be useful. Clearly, many things need to come together before the self-driving car can come to fruition.
By following an ecosystem approach for safer driving, self-driving cars will be possible, the industry gains experience, and there will be driver acceptance of some degree of autonomous drive. This includes: wide adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), powerful image recognition, sensor fusion, connectivity between vehicles, legislative advances, and standards for information sharing.
While autonomous driving may still be some years off, our technology means that many of the safety benefits of autonomous driving are accessible today. One of the ways we can turbo charge the advent of the connected and self-driving car is by turning the sensor-laden smartphones and tablets that drivers already carry, into a Situational Awareness platform. Thus, drivers – and fleet operators and other interested parties, such as parents – can become highly aware of their driving environment and their own driving risks to avoid problems, improve safety, and enhance driving efficiency. These include not just how the driver is driving, but also various road hazards, traffic flows and impediments, and contextual elements, such as accident and crime hotspots, school and hospital zones, weather and so on.
And, to the extent better driver education and engagement cannot prevent all crashes from occurring, automated crash detection (for which we were recently awarded the patent) and notification means that lives as well as money can be saved when accidents happen. Think Onstar without the hardware and triple-figure annual fees.
Crowd-and-cloud sourcing allows us to deliver Telematics ‘Plus’ through our mobile devices.
With crowd-and-cloud sourcing of driving and road conditions, drivers – and vehicles – can be aware not only of their own driving state, but also of their immediate surroundings by receiving information from other vehicles and information sources. Customers – individuals, parents, operators – can also receive intuitive reports which include driving scores and ranking filters, to maximize engagement and education. We call these added layers of information “Situational Awareness”™.
Situational Awareness is the next phase of automotive telematics, obviating the need for expensive subscriptions and hardware that requires installation by third parties or OEMs – as well as the myriad dangers of distracted driving inherent in otherwise valuable solutions like Waze.
Through Situational Awareness and a wide range of driving event detections, Apio Systems improves driver safety and efficiency through a purpose-built mobile platform, using nothing more than everyday smartphones and tablets – which are already paid for and totally vehicle-agnostic.
Read more about Apio Systems and our approach to Driving Safety for the Mobile Generation, in our White Paper and on our website (www.apiosystems.com).