Autonomous Driving Vehicles – Are We Ready?

Are we ready for autonomous driving technology?

Autonomous driving using AI and robotics has received a lot of press lately. Investors are funneling capital into new companies competing for the next big breakthrough. Some say as early as next year we could be sharing the roads with trucks employing this high tech! Put simply, having large trucks that drive themselves in the lane next to your small car or truck is a bit unsettling, but we have never had the option of holding back progress.

Plus’s Self-Driving Truck Completes Industry’s First Cross-Country Commercial Freight Run Posted 12/10/2019

Autonomous driving vehicles are already successfully being used for the more repetitive tasks in shipping yards.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, and one of the biggest concerns noted by experts in the field of AI, is that the push is on for too much too fast. Will safety be sacrificed by the ones that get there first? The challenges are highly complex. For example, things that a human driver can easily compensate for such as a road sign with graffiti, mud, or snow on it, are more difficult for AI to interpret. With the potential for the limitless one-off situations that drivers routinely encounter, the task is huge to develop AI that can learn quickly enough to adapt to new situations presented to it.

Another concern of note is related to the laser technology used in many of the autonomous driving systems currently under development. It is commonly known as Lidar. Lidar employs laser beams to see the vehicles surroundings. The wavelengths used are already restricted in the US to prevent potential human eye damage. Additionally, they can cause damage to some types of camera sensors. As we pack more electronics onto more vehicles, there is the potential for the tech on one vehicle to damage or disable the tech on another.

Finally, there are concerns about what the future will be for professional truckers. For at least the short term, the consensus is that a driver to observe and intervene if necessary would still be needed in autonomous vehicles. This is making the field more attractive to women and may actually have a positive impact on current driver shortages. Ultimately, the point of autonomous vehicles is to remove the driver entirely. How drivers use their resources and experience in the cab working alongside AI may well determine their future in the industry.

Where does that leave us?

At this point, we still have more questions than answers and many legitimate concerns. Still, sharing the road with autonomous driving vehicles is closer than we might have imagined. It is prudent for all of us human drivers to be defensive drivers, rather than being the ones to test the limits of this new technology and finding its flaws the hard way.

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6 Ways DashCam Investment Pays Off

DashCam Investment Can Reduce Insurance Cost in Many Ways

It is no mystery that video footage will have a major impact in the event your driver is involved in an accident. Four of the six ways on our list are clearly related to managing risk and reducing insurance related costs.

1. Some commercial insurers offer a direct discount for having dahscams. Dash cams reduce overall risk and streamline the claims process resulting in lower premiums.

2. Protection from false claims against your drivers. Many damage claims are based on one persons word against another. DashCam recordings of events can shut that down in a hurry.

3. Protection from staged crash claims is another benefit. Commercial trucks are often the targets of criminals staging crashes or personal injury incidents because commercial pockets tend to be deeper than individuals, and some commercial trucks follow a predictable routine. DashCam footage proves what really happened.

4. Having video footage speeds up the claims process resulting in less vehicle down time, quicker reimbursement, and less time spent testifying. All of these present additional ROI.

DashCam Investment Contributes to Accident Prevention

5. DashCams help you to prevent future collisions by identifying & correcting distracted driving behavior through event triggered video captures. Fewer accidents also mean fewer premium increases, but that is just the beginning. The cost of an accident adds up fast. Bent metal, damaged goods, vehicle down time, employee down time and injury related costs, services/stops missed, and potential litigation top the list. It is not uncommon for the final cost of a commercial vehicle collision to exceed $100,000.

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DashCam Investment for Improved Supervision

6. Often overlooked by management is Driving Attitude. Why? Because they have no way to know unless they ride with the driver, OR, have dashcams. Honestly, in cab footage can be uncomfortable to view, but it offers insight into much more than if a driver is smoking in the vehicle or using his cell phone. A driver with a great attitude looks a lot different on camera than a driver with a bad attitude. When I see video of a driver who is calm and collected, smiling, sometimes singing along with the radio, I think yes, he enjoys his job and I want a driver like that to deliver my goods and services. When I see video of a driver who looks angry with the world or makes inappropriate hand gestures at others, even the one who is rocking out – more focused on the music playing than the job at hand, I think wow, hope they never send that one to my door.

What Are the Signs?

From a business perspective, knowing who to encourage is just as important as knowing who to counsel. And there is scientific data to support that attitude affects driving behavior. According to Science Direct, “Hazard response times and eye tracking data suggest sadness can have a negative impact on driving behavior.” Your odds of getting in a collision are 10 times higher?when you’re angry or sad, according to Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute. Notice in the video below from our CrewChief DashCam, the driver’s expression during the harsh braking event as it starts and the hard turning event at about 20 seconds.

We can all relate to the fact that driving while upset or angry will bring out aggressive driving habits. We are not suggesting that you spend a lot of time evaluating in cab driver footage, but noticing the body language that indicates attitude during your routine review of event triggered video could help you to identify drivers that need some coaching or encouragement. Over time a Manager can learn a lot about a drivers strengths and weaknesses by viewing the in cab video. Also, if you are concerned there might be issues with a driver, a quick review of in cab footage may give you some perspective regarding those concerns.

How Will Your DashCam Investment Pay Off?

DashCams certainly provide the measurable dollar ROI, but they can also be used to capture the more elusive human ROI. By better understanding through video things like job satisfaction, driver loyalty, anger issues, depression, and customer satisfaction skills, management can get to know employees that they have little personal contact with. That may be the greatest ROI of all.

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Vehicle Cameras for Fleet Management

Vehicle cameras are becoming more and more popular as a fleet management tool.

Rosco vehicle cameraAs with any new tool, it takes time to understand the best ways to leverage camera use on your fleet vehicles. When selecting and setting up your vehicle camera system, managing consumption to avoid data overage needs to be considered. Ask yourself some questions when you begin. What information will be most beneficial to you in video format? How do you plan to use it? Who will be responsible for reviewing it?

There are several different types of camera systems, designed for different purposes, and it is important to select the system that will record and deliver the specific type of video record you need. No longer are cameras just a risk management measure to have a record in case of an accident. Forward-facing cameras monitor the road and potential hazards in front of the vehicle. They can stand alone, or be used with peripheral cameras. Some systems also have an interior view of the cab to record what the driver is doing. Adding side, rear, and cargo area cameras can provide valuable information as well as security. Our camera systems integrate with the Geotab tracking platform for fuller functionality.

Automatic Event Recording

Vehicle cameras designed to record events are primarily used to document the conditions an event occurs. Events may be predefined by the camera system or you can define them yourself when integrated with your vehicle tracking system. Being selective about how many of your rules generate email notifications helps to limit unnecessary email overload. In the same way, be selective about the rules you choose to trigger video downloads to avoid data overage. Speeding is a common rule that you may want to trigger a video download, but if you have several speed rules, choose carefully the one that triggers the video. A rule like 5 mph over the posted speed limit can trigger often and use up your data plan in a hurry.

 

Vehicle camera

Cameras with AI

Other vehicle camera systems use artificial intelligence to identify events. They can identify speeding, lane drift, following too closely, even road obstructions. Combined with a smartphone app, these systems give feedback to the driver to avoid potential hazards. With an in-cab view, cameras with AI can also identify and record cell phone use and smoking events.

 

 

Live Feed

Some business models such as the Security industry may benefit from live feed capability from vehicle cameras. Supervisors can view live video to consult with and advise the field employee. Managers can view job site progress and several jobs without leaving the office. Live feeds need to be used responsibly. If you forget to turn off the feed and leave for lunch, extreme data overage is the likely result.

You can see examples of video from a variety of cameras as well as installation tips on our YouTube channel.

Monitor your Data Consumption

If your system offers a feature to monitor how much data you have used, check weekly to see that you are within your data plan limits. Becoming familiar with how much data you are using will allow you to get the most out of your vehicle camera system without incurring costly overages.

data consumption

 

In-Cab Video Data Management

Data File Size

Be careful what you change to avoid expensive data overage fees

Controlling Costs

Understanding how camera settings impact your video quality and monthly cost will ensure you find a balance between the two. In general, the default settings have been found to be the best for the average customer. Changing these can increase your cost exponentially so be careful. In-cab video (ICV) is all about data transfer cost. The smaller the video files and the fewer you transmit, the less chance there is for expensive overage fees. These variables also determine how much data can be stored on the SD card in a looping memory. If you normally get 300 hours of recordings, you would only get 150 if you double the size of the data files. Learn more

File Sizes

There are 3 primary variables that impact the data volume used from the monthly data plan. Testing should be done on 1 camera before making changes to all to avoid expensive overage fees.

  1. Frame-rate-per second (fps) – The number of images that are captured per second. 7 fps is about what the eye can see. Moving this to 14 fps will double the data being transmitted and consume more of your data plan.
  2. Resolution – The quality of the images captured can make a big difference in the file size. This impacts the data transmitted as well. A standard resolution image is often good enough and produces a file of 2 megs. Going to HD might make the same file 8 megs or 400% more data.
  3. Exception settings – Video exceptions should be for the most important exceptions only. Exceptions such as accident detection or movement after-hours should produce video clips. Creating video exceptions for speeding events could create an excessive amount of exception videos that have no real value. Each in-cab video deducts from your data bucket so choose wisely. If you opted for the live streaming service, leave some data available to stream a few times per month without going over your data plan.

Live Video

Live video is an option for some in-cab camera systems. This enables a user online to “see” through the camera and view in the cab or outside the vehicle. This can be handy in specific applications but it consumes a lot of data. Live streaming should be limited to special situations or spot checking. Live streaming cannot be run continuously due to the cost so most cameras timeout after 60 seconds. You can then enable it over and over if needed.

SD Cards

The in-cab video cameras contain an SD card to store video continuously. The number of hours that can be recorded depends on the above variables as well as the size of the SD card itself. 64 gig cards hold a lot of data. If you use a slow or smaller SD card you can run into issues. If an event is not captured as an exception video clip, the SD card can be inserted into a computer and the looping video reviewed to find a particular date and time.

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