Road- and driver-facing cameras boost connected vehicle safety
The combination of video cameras with connected vehicle technology was impossible to miss at the Commercial Vehicle Show last week in Birmingham, UK.
Major fleets are using the cameras to help drivers avoid pedestrians and cyclists in urban areas, to analyse and challenge insurance claims, and to monitor higher risk driver behaviour, such as signs of fatigue and distraction through mobile phone use.
VisionTrack launched a new AI detection camera (pictured below) at the show to provide drivers with 360-degree visibility around their vehicles, eliminating blindspots and signalling real-time alerts when vulnerable road users are close by.
Simon Jackson, UK Sales Director VisionTrack, said the sophistication of the new system avoided the false positives of lamp posts, bins, bollards and road signs triggering the alarm, which can lead to ‘alarm fatigue’.
“This new system is very specific, so drivers are much more responsive,” he said.
Combining video footage with telematics data can lead to an 80% reduction in risky driver behaviour, a 50% fall in collisions and a 40% cut in claims costs, said Jackson.
“The biggest challenge is how fleets deal with the video footage,” he said. “Our AI-powered NARA risk analysis software analyses near misses and collisions, so fleet managers only have to watch the videos that really make a difference. We can reduce the number of videos by 90%.”
The supermarket chain Tesco is one major fleet using cameras to provide its last mile delivery drivers with a 360-degree view of their light commercial vehicles for safe, low-speed manoeuvring. The delivery fleet is equipped with Motormax’s Safetymax system, which has four cameras outside the vehicle and another forward-facing camera.
Instant driver alerts
A partnership between telematics firm Samsara and Motormax means Safetymax is now integrated in Samsara’s Connected Operations Cloud. However, on-board AI capabilities mean drivers are prompted to correct dangerous behaviours, such as phone use or inattentiveness, before any alerts are sent back to the fleet department. The camera can monitor a driver’s head position for indications of distraction and if it detects a diverted gaze or using a handheld phone it produces an audible warning for the driver.
“The system provides voice coaching ‘nudges’ and only when these alerts are ignored two or three times is video footage transmitted to the fleet manager,” said a Samara executive. “This is designed to prevent accidents, rather than retrospectively analyse them.”
CameraMatics has linked video with telematics, AI technology and driver safety training to create iCOACH, a new product launched at the Commercial Vehicle Show. When iCOACH identifies higher risk events, such as driver distraction and fatigue, as well as harsh braking, acceleration and cornering, it automatically connects drivers with specific coaching modules to improve and correct their driving behaviour.
Mervyn O’ Callaghan, CEO and Founder at CameraMatics, said: “We’re the first company to introduce an end-to-end driver training solution for fleet operators, using artificial intelligence to monitor driving habits and provide the most suitable coaching modules for individuals, and we believe we can help to change driving habits for the better.”
One of the UK’s highest profile fleets, the breakdown recovery service RAC, started fitting Exeros cameras to its patrol vans in 2017, and has been so impressed at the time and cost savings that it has now integrated them into its RAC Connected Platform, a telematics solution offered to third-party fleets. The cameras start recording as soon as a vehicle’s engine is turned on, and if the system detects an incident, such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking or a collision, it reviews the video and classifies it as low-risk, high-risk or a collision, which removes the need for fleet managers to watch hours of video.
Nigel Humpherson, Head of RAC Connected, said: “We are now able to offer our clients far greater insight into their fleets as well as protecting their drivers from the dangers of tiredness and distraction. The addition of state-of-the-art external and interior camera technology adds another dimension. As Exeros dash cams have been fitted to every RAC patrol for six years, we have complete trust and understanding in just how effective they are in saving time and money.”
Images: Shutterstock, VisionTrack, J Manning