SafeDrivePod expanded to include driver monitoring and crash detection
Since it inception close to 5 years ago, SafeDrivePod has been a service that could block smartphone screens while driving. Now, the service is expanded to include driver behaviour monitoring, crash detection and coaching. Hitachi Capital Mobility will be rolling out the service next month.
SafeDrivePod founder Paul Hendriks (pictured, left) said: “We can now also monitor driver behaviour but we still do not record a vehicle’s location data. That’s a big advantage for certain use-cases or for markets where privacy is an important concern.”
No location tracking
SafeDrivePod is the name of the company, but it’s also the name of a device. It is a small round pod that can be affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard and that can block a smartphone screen when driving, cutting a potential source of distraction and accidents. The pod also features an accelerometer, allowing it to measure acceleration or deceleration in certain directions – an indication of how vigorous a vehicle is braking, accelerating or cornering.
The system can also detect crashes, which is also the only exception to the “no location” policy. If users have consented to sharing their location in the event of a crash, it will indeed be forwarded to a control centre, which can then call the driver and alert the emergency services.
SafeDrivePod develops both the hardware and software in-house. It is available as a stand-alone service but the company has also signed agreements with insurance companies and leasing companies. On 1 May, Hitachi Capital Mobility will also start offering SafeDrivePod to its customers. A series of other companies in Europe, Africa and the US will kick off around the summer.
No data connection needed
“Often, telematics companies or insurance companies collect data they don’t need,” said Mr Hendriks. “They don’t need to know what parts of town you often frequent, or even if you often park in front of certain establishments. That has nothing to do with driver behaviour.”
Another advantage to the SafeDrivePod approach: it doesn’t send huge data packets and doesn’t consume much bandwidth. “Our data is kB sized,” said Mr Hendriks.
“What’s more, a data connection over the phone isn’t even needed. The pod can store data of up to 1,000 trips in its internal memory, making it an appealing product for rental companies as they can read out the SafeDrivePod after a few months. This feature also opens possibilities for usage-based insurance based on time instead of mileage. We’re working on this in several markets in Latin America, for instance.”
SafeDrivePod’s no-frills take on telematics comes at an appealing cost. “For ABCE (Acceleration, Braking, Cornering and Emergency), we charge €3.50 per month,” said Mr Hendriks. There is no additional charge for the hardware pod.
“To date, we have around 100,000 cars on the road with a SafeDrivePod. By the end of the year, we aim to have 25,000 to 30,000 equipped with the new version.”
In the summer of 2020, SafeDrivePod was acquired by the Dutch mobility company AutoBinck.SafeDrivePod was a winner of the International Fleet Industry Awards of Fleet Europe in 2016.