Let’s Not Meet by Accident

by Fintan Dunne, rta0 Founder


It’s 2018, and still no flying cars in the air.

And when I say cars, I don’t mean flimsy, propeller-driven, flying mosquitoes for two. I mean something like  a nice Buick, with wings.  Some things are clearly more tricky to do than the hype suggests.

Driver-less cars are another case in point. Many critics have already kicked big holes in Google’s ‘driver-less’ ambitions:

“Intricate preparations [must be] made beforehand, with the cars exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. Its vastly more effort than what’s needed for Google Maps.”

Driver-less cars are an idea best suited to wealthy, developed countries, and soonest achieved in data-rich, urban and suburban technology ‘mesh’ areas. These landscape solutions will take decades to fully roll out globally.

But this isn’t about dissing Google. Their work in this field is vital. This is about the long delay until such technology arrives; and about the “60-40” problem.

When all cars are driver-less, they can be guided like a robot army. But at some point, a 60-40 mix of human and driver-less cars will be on the same freeway and local roads. How’s that going to work out? During a rush hour snow storm?

That problem is vastly simpler if the human-driven cars have smartphones which can “talk” to driver-less cars and mesh with urban traffic systems.

Right now, the motor industry sees the smartphone mostly as an extension of their in-car displays. But smart phones can, and will, do much more.

Driver augmentation via smartphones will improve road safety far faster than robot cars. Smartphone AI also provides the optimum bridge to deploy today‘s technologies, and integrate with tomorrow‘s solutions.

T O D A Y ‘ S   S T A T E   O F   T H E   A R T

Insurers are already offering premium reductions to drivers monitored by smartphone or other GPS positioning devices. They hope to then influence the driver’s behavior by hiking or reducing their auto insurance premium.

For example, in the U.S., Progressive Insurance offers a customer-fitted GPS device which plugs into a vehicle diagnostic port. The device can record the time of day journeys take place, to enable fine-tuning of individual driving risk profile.

In a similar fashion, some EU insurers offer discount to drivers who carry a cellphone in their car. Other insurers rely on trackers used in commercial fleet driver monitoring.

But these industry offerings have had poor uptake by consumers -other than young drivers.  For most private motorists, GPS units are a significant install cost over the course of perhaps a one year policy term; and the smartphone option offers only modest premium reductions to offset the disadvantage of being “watched”.

State of Tech :  We’re on the threshold of driving tech in vehicles. We need to max what can be done and raise uptake rates.


Your phone. OUR APP. Free CRASH prevention.

G A M E   C H A N G E R

rta0 accelerates the use of motor safety technology by a game-changing dynamic which offers high returns to all players : the insurers, individuals and public administration.

Consumers haven’t taken to tracking technology; and to be fair, who can blame them? The public need an overwhelming reason to submit to such management of their driving.

Alice changes that. Our design and proprietary elements unlock consumer resistance and create an unstoppable momentum towards widespread adoption of driver augmentation.

Operationally, we provide collision prevention and dynamic insurance risk discovery; married to AI-based, advanced behavior management for drivers.

That’s quite a mouthful. But, watch an eight-year-old or eighty-year-old, swipe their way through an iPhone photo album. Underneath there’s a world of good design -now instinctive at the fingertip. That’s been our goal.

We interact with drivers in a new way – via the kind of human factors engineering which guided the conception of the iPhone; with  a design and methodology rooted in a human-centered focus.

Society has many old problems, with matching old solutions. The iPhone showed us that human factors engineering makes design leaps leveraging technology to supersede old solutions with dramatically improved outcomes.

 

K E E P   I T  H U M A N

For all of Silicon Valley’s innovation reputation, the reality is a lot of ‘me-too’ and linear thinking. Technology’s bright allure focused us on driver-less destinations -when we also needed pathways to that destination.

Question: What is the most important nut in a car?
Answer: The nut behind the wheel. 😉

The industry takes the elimination of the driver as a given. In the long term, that’s right. But augmenting the functioning of existing drivers will in the short-term outperform driver-less cars when it comes to saving most lives.

It was premature to design out the smartest piece of technology in any car today: the human! We keep the driver. We leverage the driver.

The driver is our Star.

B U I L D I N G   T E C H   B R I D G E S

We need a seamless bridge from existing to future systems. We need rapid systems engineering with a bias to immediate practicality.

Asking individual insurance companies to play that role is a big ask. They are insurers – not technologists. The socially desirable outcome is beyond the capacity of a single insurer. And beyond its shareholder mandate, to be frank.

The State has a public interest here. The State can and should act to bring about a well-regulated technology infrastructure which allows road safety authorities, technologists and insurers to manage risk optimally.

Such an infrastructure can develop alongside of the traditional predictive risk insurance market. And can mesh with emerging systems of the future.

The game change is from mere actuarial prediction of risk – to live management of actual risk and behavior.

That puts RTA’s on the fastest path to extinction, and keeps them on it.

And that’s our core goal.

The Knock on the Door

by Fintan Dunne, rta0 Founder

If the police had knocked just a little longer or harder on our front door at 7a.m., then my mother, my two younger brothers and I might have got to see John Dunne, father of our small family -before he died.

But we four lay in our beds asleep while he lay just miles away on his back on a frosty January road. John had an early morning contract to distribute Irish Independent newspapers to outlets across South Dublin. Occupationally not seat-belted, his van had skidded across the Bray Road in Dublin to collide head-on with an oncoming truck.

Deceased at 51, he left a widowed spouse, a youngest son at 12, another at 16 and I, the eldest, at 21.  The trauma was life defining.

On our way to Loughlinstown hospital that morning after a vague 7:50a.m. phone call, we drove past the mangled remains of the Independent van . My mother quietly said “My, God.” She knew then.  Later she knew for sure.

We had been a close-knit, artistic family of five. Now we were four.

The Echo

It’s twenty years later. I’m running a software development firm. All around me are banks of computers, servers and communications paraphernalia. Already, by 10am, it’s hotter than hell, because the equipment is pumping out heat.

The phone rings.

“I’m looking for Fintan Dunne.” A laconic, slow drawl of a voice.

“Yes, …. speaking.”

“Sergeant O’Rourke here, Fintan, in Enniskerry.” A long, silent pause.

Days ago, Joe- my youngest brother had phoned to say that our middle sibling, Declan had come home with pants wet up to the knee and was days previously in the early a.m. found in the hills above the Dundrum family home.

“You know why I’m calling you…., don’t you?,” said the sergeant.

Ah…no…. Ah, Jesus, no.

“Yeah……..,” I whisper. The fans whine, trying to shift hot air.

He breaks the silence. “Can you meet me at the station?”

When I get to Enniskerry and meet the Sergeant, he is a breath of fresh air. Down to earth. Which is just what I need. He is so matter of fact, you would swear we were going for a burger and not to the mountain roads above Enniskerry village to collect the car in which Declan had taken his own life.

It has a flat battery, because with the lights being on, they drained the battery after the petrol ran out. These are the mundane aspects of a suicide. We view the gorse-fringed clearing where Declan had taken his own life.

His suicide was multi-factorial, but in truth the trauma of those events a score of years earlier had left their mark. The accident had reached out to echo across time and claim it’s second fatality.

That’s the way of it. Ask others bereaved by the trauma of road accidents or suicide. I’ve known both. For countless families, the knock on the door is answered to devastating news. The suddenness of loss detonates shock waves lasting decades. People live on, never the same. Direct your empathy to my late mother -who lost more than I can comprehend.

We had been a close-knit family of four. Now we were three.

Ending the Carnage

“Are you sure you will be able to drive it?” inquires the Sergeant. The car reeks incredibly of carbon monoxide fumes. He and I have it running.

“Yeah….” I answer casually with a wave of my hand. I sit in and belt up. There is a part of me tough as a Vietnam vet; a war landscape most of my life.

From Enniskerry, I drove down to identify my brother Declan’s remains in the same Loughlinstown mortuary which had held my father twenty years earlier. One event, two entwined consequences.

I’ve touched the carnage and it’s touched me. I have skin in this game. During a late 1990’s surge in suicides, I established Men’s Aid to do anti-suicide radio advertising and outreach. Suicide and road deaths are twin mass killers. Issues constantly close to my heart.

Sentiment however, won’t prevent tomorrow’s road tragedies. Determination and human ingenuity will. So here’s good news for those who want to see an end to destroyed lives and fractured families.

I became an Apple ‘tech’ pioneer in 1981. Reinvention via human factors technology is the blood in my veins.

Over the last two years, I’ve overcome all technical obstacles to invent a smartphone app called Alice, which prevents road accidents.

Smartphones are today in widespread use. So while we await a new generation of intelligent cars, drivers can team up with Alice on their smartphone and avail of a road-savvy artificial intelligence, always alert for danger.  You can learn more about Alice on our website homepage.

It’s taken time until smartphones got sufficiently widespread, reliable and globally cheap to make the Alice system possible.  That time is now.

My mother Mary instilled in all of us a powerful meme: “Anything worth doing,” she would say, “is worth doing well.” Well, it isn’t only tragedy which knocks. Opportunity knocks also. We have a historic opportunity.  Let’s do it well.

I’ve outlined a deployment timeline below:

rta0 : A TWO YEAR TIMELINE
http://rta0.org/blog/teamzero/