Dashcams have come of age. From being a novelty, they are now widely used by fleet operators and the insurance industry to monitor driver behaviour.
A new generation of dashcams now includes artificial intelligence that incorporates a number of safety-related features, such as driver drowsiness detection, that OEMs are being required to fit as standard equipment in some markets. A global leader in this field is Idrive, which specialises in developing and supplying video telematics and artificial intelligence services for the transportation industry. By incorporating artificial intelligence, idrive has created the Idrive AI Cam, described as the next-generation in dash camera technology. With add-on peripherals it can replace up to 10 transportation devices. The camera’s hardware features High Definition Video, an OLED Display for in-cab alerts and an 8-core processor embedded with in-camera AI for realtime computing. The processor can run multiple processes in real-time including: safe distance warning, distracted driving, event detection, and in-cab alerts. “Idrive has made a huge leap in artificial intelligence technology with the AI Cam. By combin- ing traditional video telematics with artificial intelligence, we can predict, identify and mitigate unsafe driving events as they are happening,” says idrive’s CEO, Sean O’Neil. Early in 2019 Idrive introduced the iris platform that allows customers to manage their fleet from a secure cloud-based AI platform. This smart, flexible and scalable platform gives transportation companies of all sizes the ability to access video telematics, AI features, reports and analytics, driver coaching, and fleet management tools seamlessly from one place. “By drawing on the similarities between the human eye and a camera lens, we chose to name our fleet management platform ‘iris’ to represent the colourful benefits our technology brings to prevent the most disastrous and life-threatening events that occur too often in the commercial transportation industry,” says the company.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked iDrive O’Neil to share the company’s journey from being a regular dashcam manufacturer to intelligent AI-enabled camera developer. O’Neil: Our journey started over 10 years ago when we launched our first dash camera, the idrive X1. The X series was brought into the market at a time when the industry was wanting more options for their fleet management solutions. A little over five years ago we knew another big change to the industry was coming This was when we launched our AI division to develop AIbased features and technology that is accessible to fleet owners and makes their jobs a little easier. Our team and servers sorted through and ran detailed calculations on billions and billions of driving miles collected throughout our years as a dashcam provider. Having this data allowed us to run algorithms and work on perfecting our AI’s accuracy. We currently exceed 90% accuracy on all AI event detection and that number is growing.
AI: What makes the idrive AI Cam a revolutionary technology, and how can it help fleet managers? O’Neil: The AI Cam is revolutionary because it can replace over eight fleet systems in one small device the size of an iPhone. The system we built the AI Cam on and the hardware we selected to build it with leaves us with endless options on what AI features to introduce next. Our processors can handle the heavy duty computing that AI requires for features such as facial recognition, distracted and drowsy driving detection, and seatbelt detection. All of these aren’t new, but when you combine them into one system that quietly sits on the windshield and accurately collects all of this data and more for fleet managers, that is revolutionary technology. Fleet Managers are inundated daily with thousands of moving pieces while trying to run their fleet and make sure they do it safely. The more data we can collect for them in one system and give it to them in one simple report the easier it makes their jobs.
AI: What makes AI a game changer in the transportation industry – for example, keeping fraud down, improving safety, etc? O’Neil: It is pushing the safety improvement boundaries. With our standard X-Series dash camera we saw an average of 53% reduction in accident frequency. Standard dash cameras are often used as crash cameras. You are involved in an accident, capture the accident and then you have unbiased information regarding what happened. We still capture accidents, but we are adding tools to change a driver’s behaviour. The finer the details you have, the better reports you can give, and the better data a fleet manager receives to correct driving habits before they cause an accident. Outdated systems use key fobs to identify who was driving at the time of an event. We eliminate that with facial recognition. We capture the mid-shift changes or random driver swaps which are very important details. At the same time, we also capture if a driver is drowsy or severely distracted and can alert a fleet manager in real time that they need to get that driver off the road. These are game-changing features and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
AI: What are some of the challenges in the transportation industry that could be helped by your technology? O’Neil: There are so many distractions in today’s world, and these distractions can be extremely deadly on the road. These risks are multiplied when you have a bus driver with a full bus or a fully loaded truck that needs extra time to stop. One text, one drowsy shift or one second with your eyes off the road can equal a catastrophe. Our goal with distracted and drowsy driving detection built into the AI Cam is to help eliminate these distractions and get that driver home safe. With our in-cab feedback we can alert drivers of their distractions and send a message to their fleet manager showing them the risk. Another feature that provides immediate feedback to the driver, particularly a drowsy one will be announced Q1 of 2020. AI: What is the iris Fleet Management Platform and how does it work in conjunction with the AI Cam? O’Neil: The iris fleet management platform is a cloud-based platform to which driving data is uploaded. Once uploaded to iris, events from the AI Cam can be viewed, reviewed, scored, organized into actionable data. All of this data can be exported into easy-to-read reports based on driver, location, vehicle and more. Reports help fleet manager and fleet owners assess their fleet faster and go into the finer details of what is going on within their fleet. In iris you can also track your fleet live, request live video events to be sent to you and set hundreds of different parameters based on your fleet’s needs.
AI: Would these technologies (AI Cam and iris) be used for other applications in the future? O’Neil: Absolutely. For years, some of our biggest clients have been insurance companies. Many insurance companies see and know the benefits of the technology and offer subsidies for their end-users to outfit their vehicles with them. With the AI Cam our insurance clients will now have even more detailed information at hand. Iris provides an easy to access cloud-based platform that insurance providers can log into with certain permission levels to view their client’s data (only with their client’s permission).
A majority of the time our client’s insurance rates will decrease because of their accident reduction and reduction in small claims.
AI: How do you see the applications for your technologies growing? O’Neil: Currently our market is fleets, but this technology is something that can benefit every driver on the road. We would like to see more OEMs and auto manufactures utilize our technology to make the roads a much safer place for everyone.