Big Fleets Here Tap Eletech for ‘Mobileye,’ ‘Ituran’ Technologies to Cut Accidents, Waste, Losses
Big corporate fleets in and around Medellin and across Colombia increasingly are turning to sophisticated vehicle technologies in order to avoid accidents, cut fuel costs, avoid merchandise damage, monitor driver behavior and improve routing.
Among local fleets employing and/or evaluating novel “Mobileye” and “Ituran” systems are insurance giant Sura, cement maker Cemex, supermarket leader Exito and soft-drinks maker Postobon.
These advanced vehicle/driver/road-status technologies — created and developed in Israel — are being marketed in Colombia by Medellin-based Eletech SA.
In an interview with Medellin Herald, Eletech SA operations director Victor Meir Avraham explained the evolution of these technologies — and their growing applications here in the Colombian market.
While many Colombian fleets employ relatively simple global positioning system (GPS) technologies to track individual vehicle movements, the Mobileye and Ituran technologies go far beyond those.
The more-advanced technologies incorporate sophisticated cameras, warning lights-and-sounds, facial recognition technology (detecting driver distraction and drowsiness), two-way telecom systems for emergency communications, and computer programs that automatically digest and analyze vast amounts of crucial data for relatively easy fleet-management evaluations of driver and vehicle behavior.
Bringing advanced Israeli technology to the Colombian fleet-vehicle market has proven to be a “perfect match” — with huge growth opportunities on the horizon, Avraham explained.
Mobileye – bought by U.S. computer-technology giant Intel in 2017 for US$15.4 billion (the biggest-ever corporate acquisition in Israeli history) – gave Intel a key entryway into the vast global vehicle market, including the futuristic “autonomous vehicle” business, Avraham said.
The Mobileye technology being offered in Colombia can be used by any sort of vehicle, including cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles, he said.
Mobileye systems for distracted-driver alerts include lane-departure warning, headway monitoring and warning (to avoid tailgating and rear-end crashes), pedestrian collision warning, speed-limit detection and warning, and driver fatigue warnings, he showed.
In-development is a newer Mobileye system that eventually will detect and report potholes in roads, broken traffic lights and other highway infrastructure problems – following which these detections will be sent wirelessly to government highway departments, in real time. The same system eventually will create highway mapping systems that will be useful for the next generation of autonomous vehicles, he added.
Ituran: Telematics, Fleet-Management Analysis
While Mobileye is a stand-alone system on the vehicle, Eletech pairs it with Ituran technology, which (among various features) enables fleet managers to analyze driver and vehicle operations, with dozens of possible plug-in options.
Among the systems that can be run by Ituran is a “pin-type” keyboard that enables recognition of each individual driver of a fleet vehicle.
Yet another system — termed “safety” — is like an airplane “black box” that can record all safety issues, accidents and even automatically call the fleet manager operations center to report an accident (if for example the driver is knocked unconscious and hence unable to call).
Another aspect of this technology is a loop-cycle camera system that records what happened inside and outside a vehicle immediately before and after an accident. Those recordings, automatically uploaded to the cloud, can be useful for determining fault in any accident.
A plug-in cell-phone system also can be incorporated for hands-free, two-way communications between the driver and fleet management.
Yet another novel option is a cargo-bay thermometer system for refrigerated transport, which alerts the driver and fleet management of temperature anomalies that could damage goods in transit. This is especially useful for food and dairy transporters, for example.
Another system records fuel consumption, oil consumption and vehicle refueling behavior that can detect poor driving habits — or possible diversion of fuel into a portable fuel container or another vehicle.
Yet another technology feature issues a mild warning sound for a moderate excess of vehicle speed, and a harsher sound for greater excess speed — combined with an “eye flash” camera that monitors traffic cameras so that the fleet can avoid costly speeding fines.
The telematics system in these technologies enables a fleet manager to monitor every vehicle in real time, as well as to receive periodic, automated reports on driver and vehicle behavior, including reckless driving, excessive stop-times at pickup/delivery points, questionable refueling, prohibited stops, prohibited routes or prohibited openings of cargo doors.
“Ituran is ‘big data,’ what many call the ‘new gold,’” Avraham explained. “This is what differentiates Israeli technology” from other competitors, he added.
“Every vehicle can generate 10 gigabytes of data each month – every braking event, every acceleration, every turn, every speed, every traffic violation. But most of that is too much data” for practical fleet-manager evaluation.
“So, Ituran turns that 10 gigabytes into 40 or 50 megabytes of useful data, sent to the cloud. Not many companies can do this; it’s high-level telematics and analysis.”
For example, the recent “Vision Zero” pedestrian-accident-reduction initiative (in Europe and especially in Sweden) has been a “huge success” because of telematics analysis, he said.
These technologies gather and analyze city-wide accident data, by day and time-of-day — and then show the high-risk areas on a computerized, interactive map, so that fleet managers can help design routes to avoid such high-risk areas at certain hours.
These technologies also identify the highest-risk and lowest-risk drivers among the fleets, by automated scoring systems showing which driver too-often drives at excessive speed, or tailgates, or aggressively brakes and steers.
The end-result: computerized “report cards” on each driver, with “green,” “yellow” and “red” computerized colors used to indicate good, mediocre and dangerous behavior. Such reports can help managers coach drivers on better behavior — and if coaching doesn’t work, then justifiable firings can result.
Since some fleets may employ dozens or hundreds of drivers, such a computerized system can vastly improve over-all fleet operations– and save vast amounts of management time by enabling early detection of driver-behavior trends that could lead to costly safety problems later.
On a related front, a cell-phone application available with the Ituran telematics system not only enables fleet managers to monitor and evaluate fleet-vehicle drivers, but also could enable individual car owners (such as a parent loaning a car to a son or daughter) to monitor behaviors.
Such technology is already being used in fleet applications here, but it could spread to the general population in future.
Eventually, the Ituran system also potentially could help bring about “usage-based insurance” (UBI) for individual car drivers here –still a novel concept in Colombia, in contrast to its common usage in North America, Europe, Israel and elsewhere, he said.
Colombian car insurance typically is based upon the vehicle value rather than the driver’s actual behavior, he said. In contrast, UBI analyzes personal driver risk, which could prompt insurance companies to offer premium discounts to good drivers, or penalties for poorer drivers.
“We’re trying to implement this with Sura in Colombia – it’s a six-month project, to see what best fits Sura needs for Colombian conditions” for individual car drivers, Avraham said.
“This would revolutionize Colombian transport if it applies to individual car drivers, and not just fleet vehicles,” he added.