A split second can change a person’s life in an instant – entrepreneur Nisarg Pandya learnt this the hard way. After losing a close family member in a road accident, Pandya was determined to decode how devastating accidents can be mitigated altogether. He joined hands with fellow technology domain experts like Haresh Kausalya, Kumar Ranjan, Dhairya Badiyani, Prajwal Mulkalwar and Sarvesh Devi to create drivebuddyAI – a startup that uses computer vision and AI to help reduce fatalities on the road, make driving safer and help mitigate loss of life and property.
Making Driver Assistance Technology-Enabled In India
Since 2000, the number of registered vehicles in India has grown by 158%. There has been an exponential increase in road traffic, and consequently, accidents. In 2015, there were 5 lakh road accidents in India, killing 1.5 lakh people. As a signatory of the Brasilia declaration, India intends to reduce road accidents and fatalities by 50% by 2022 – however, there has been little success in bringing these numbers down. Data reveals that road accidents in Q1 2018 were up by 1.6% compared to Q1 2017.
Simply put – in this decade, the average annual road death crashes stand at 1.3 lakh per year – a number that’s bigger than the population of several Indian towns. Can technology help bring down road accident fatalities?
In order to limit accidents, speed governors and GPS tracking device are installed in commercial vehicles, but accidents continue to rise. Current GPS tracking devices are limited to location and speed-based data like acceleration, hard braking and over-speeding. However, further research has revealed that 84% accidents occur due to the driver’s fault, which include distraction, over-speeding, and enhanced proximity to the vehicle ahead. While over-speeding can be addressed by installing GPS tracking devices, real-time driving challenges like speeding, proximity to vehicles, driver distraction (mainly use of mobiles and conversing with co-passengers) and driver fatigue usually remain unaddressed. Additionally, surrounding roads play a crucial role in a driver’s performance and in reducing accidents.
Computer Vision Gaining Popularity In Automotive Industry
drivebuddyAI attempts to address these critical factors using a combination of IoT sensors and AI-driven algorithms. By heavily depending on computer vision-based telematics, Drivebuddy AI uses edge computing and deep learning techniques to teach AI algorithms more about the different types of road conditions, traffic scenarios and driving patterns of the drivers.
This startup is among the early adopters in India of computer vision for road safety. Research shows that computer vision can assist with reducing pedestrian accidents, streamline flow of traffic, provide alerts of driver fatigue and more. Potentially, millions can be saved each year by harnessing the power of computer vision for enhanced road safety.
With a retro-fit AI-IoT-based Driver Monitoring and Assistance System, drivebuddy AI can provide valuable, data-driven insights in the fields of commercial logistics, transport services, road engineering and insurance.
With on-board forward collision assistance and drive distraction / driver drowsiness warning, drivers could be safer and more reliable while increasing their on-road efficiency. The company’s cloud platform consists of intelligent video analytics, driver evaluation and driver coaching modules, which help improve driving skills while reducing accidents.
These features could be utilised by private fleets and governments to monitor, assist and train drivers to enhance vehicle and driver safety. drivebuddyAI’s video analytics consists of providing road monitoring reports to city municipal bodies that could be utilised to optimise congestion at traffic junction and identify accident prone zones by mapping technique.
In addition, the company’s AI-IoT-based technology continuously monitor a vehicle’s surrounding and driving patterns to detect potential problems at early stage, by giving on-board forward collision warning and driver distraction alerts. Commercial fleet companies and government institutes could ideally install these devices to improve the overall driving experience while enhancing standards of vehicle and pedestrian safety, providing intelligent traffic monitoring to improve road infrastructure.
Currently, drivebuddyAI is being used in commercial vehicles. Various fleet companies are utilising their devices to track their drivers, incentivise driving and avoid proxy driving. But the founders say fleet drivers are grateful for this device for its ability to detect driver fatigue, provide timely alerts and consequently save lives.
drivebuddyAI was shortlisted for incubation at NASSCOM Center of Excellence IoT Bangalore this year.