With so much info coming at you while you’re on the road, another device seems like the last thing that would help.
But San Diego-based startup Netradyne wants its Driveri camera to help you drive better by actually monitoring how you drive — and giving you feedback. Using AI to teach its platform how to respond to situations on the road, the company works with fleets and commercial drivers. It tracks driving and behavior in real-time and gives in-the-moment advice for dangerous situations.
Netradyne recently partnered with a nationwide school bus fleet to help train and monitor drivers shuttling very precious cargo. Last month trucking company Halvor Lines put the Driveri in its fleet. In the trial, the camera captured seven times more risky behaviors than other recording devices. And, after using the technology, driver performance improved.
The device holds four hi-def cameras to provide a 360-degree view of your drive, both on the road and inside the vehicle. Facial recognition tools help with driver “log-ins” and can be used for training.
Privacy concerns like those that came up with Uber and Lyft drivers streaming dash cam videos aren’t as big of an issue yet, since ride-sharing companies don’t use the device. For fleet drivers who might occasionally have family members in the vehicle, there’s a lens cap or an option to turn off the inward-facing camera.
Insight about your drive and patterns about how often you check your phone or fail to completely stop are sent to your phone. Actual video of your trip is shared, so you can review and see what you did on the road. Companies can use Netradyne’s driver score program to evaluate and track employee drivers.
This week I took a midday ride in a Chrysler 300 sedan through San Francisco with Driveri hooked up. (It’s connected to your vehicle, so no overheating batteries or power cords needed.) The driver, Kevin, wasn’t chastised too much during the 30-minute drive, but he did get warned about “distracted driving” when he looked too long at his side mirror, and the voice brusquely alerted him about “hard acceleration” for, well, just that. A subtle beep sounded when he braked too hard behind a car near the Embarcadero.
Here’s the moment the driver was distracted:
Netradyne president Sandeep Pandya was in the back seat telling me about the device and how it’s evolved from a dash cam to a driver coaching tool. It’s not only risky behaviors that are flagged. Drivers are recognized for positive driver behavior, which helps boost scores. Pandya followed along on the mobile app, showing me videos of the ride while I was still a passenger.
Netradyne isn’t an autonomous vehicle company, but its 50 million recorded minutes contain useful data about driver behavior and patterns. The Driveri is collecting 10 million miles per month — that’s real road data, not simulated miles. With real-time computing power, Driveri could one day share road conditions to users as they happen.
Driveri could one day share road conditions to users as they happen.
This device could soon be useful for ride-share drivers and eventually everyday motorists: new drivers, like teenagers, come to mind. A Liberty Mutual Insurance study released this week found that of 2,000 teens and 1,000 parents with teenage licensed drivers, almost 40 percent of parents admit to speeding while driving. Close to 30 percent of those teens said they speed. Drowsy driving and multitasking had similar self-reported rates for both parents and teens: high 20s for parents, low 20s for teens. App usage while driving was also high for both driver groups: 37 percent of parents compared to 38 percent of teens.
An impartial, always-on, focused teacher could be useful in this situation. The app with reviewable videos and data points presents clear problem areas and tips for improvement.
One day, Pandya hopes ride-sharing drivers can use the cameras to provide reassurance that the ride is recorded and any discrepancies can be pulled up and reviewed. There’s even a privacy feature in the recorded videos to blur out anyone in the vehicle besides the driver.
Beyond driver protection, Pandya sees efforts from ride-hailing companies to ensure a safer experience that could make his device more attractive. “Ride-share companies want to deploy more safety equipment,” he said. Driveri is an after-market product that works with any vehicle.
After the fatal self-driving Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona, earlier this year, it’s known that even back-up drivers in autonomous vehicles may be susceptible to distracted driving. The driver was streaming Hulu on her phone just before hitting the pedestrian. The driving safety app Drivemode released a study Thursday that found the most common apps streamed behind the wheel were YouTube, Audible, and Facebook. Looking at 757,000 anonymized Android users, it showed that distracted driving due to our devices is still very much an issue.
If a driver was caught on camera scrolling through Facebook behind the wheel, Driveri would certainly have something to say. And maybe that driver would change their habits. Eventually.