IMS Analyzes Driver Behavior for Safer Driving

Intel drives big data analytics.

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Challenge

Drivers on the road often have a positive view of their skills that is not supported by data, which makes it challenging for insurance companies to accurately project driving performance and offer discounts to policy holders who are consistently better (or less risky) drivers. Additionally, corporations had difficulty tracking the driving behavior of employees using corporate vehicles.

Solution

Driving Real Time Data Analysis. Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) brings driving data from the car to insurance companies or corporations on a network infrastructure powered by Intel to allow precise data analysis of driving behavior to deliver accurate insights about driving skills, vehicle usage, trip location, and fuel consumption.

Impact

IMS depends on a scalable network infrastructure, delivered by HP Proliant* rack servers featuring Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2660 v2 to deliver real-time driving results throughout rush hour peaks when network traffic can increase by more than ten times the levels processed at other times of day.  IMS developers leverage the speed and power of 4th Generation Intel® Core™  i7 processors at the desktop to develop algorithms and solutions that translate raw driving data into big data analytics that customers can use to hone driving skills.  With significant business growth projected, IMS built its server environment on Intel® products to handle its growing subscriber base, which has increased more than five times in the past year.

Focusing on making driving safer, smarter and greener, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) looked for a way to measure information about a vehicle and driving behavior, and then used big data analytics to translate that raw data into usable information about a driver’s skills behind the wheel that can help businesses, insurance companies, and even transportation agencies track usage, performance, and activities.

At the heart of IMS’ solution is the DriveSync connected car platform*, which collects information from a small device plugged into a vehicle and relays it over the IMS network for analysis and real-time reporting.

Christopher Dell, Director of Product Management at IMS, says “the applications for the DriveSync connected car platform are diverse from a business owner needing to monitor a fleet of drivers, to insurance companies wanting to provide discounted rates to their best drivers, or even a state or provincial agency looking to monitor road usage to migrate from a gas tax system for road repairs to a pay-for-use model.”

To make sure the data is received, analyzed, and appropriate actions are taken quickly, IMS built their network infrastructure on Intel® technology including HP Proliant* servers powered by Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2660 v2 to handle the scalability needed to manage spikes in network traffic and the growth projected as more and more businesses are brought online.

IMS has seen exponential growth in customers and a surge in data traffic over the network in the past year, and with new business coming on stream in the US, Canada and Europe, as well as applications for the technology for state or provincial road use tracking, IMS needs a responsive, scalable network to handle the load today and into the future.

“We need these servers to be high performance. They are taking the data collected from vehicles and need to be able to process that very quickly,” says Dell, noting IMS is currently investigating replacing the in-car device with smart phone applications since many smart phones have GPS and accelerometers.

To facilitate breakthrough ideas, IMS’ IT department standardizes on Lenovo PCs* and laptops* featuring the 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor family for the mobile power they need.

“A high percentage of our employees are technical. Whether they are in engineering, innovation, or focused on product development and looking at ground-breaking ideas, we need processing power in a mobile platform. We’re looking for the right balance of mobility and processing power,” says Dell. “If we are looking at a new algorithm to interpret driving behavior, we will do initial prototype work on our local machines where speed and processing power are critical to our efficiency in product development.”

"We want to incent the drivers to drive as well as possible and we do that by showing them driving scores and information about their performance on the road."

– Christopher Dell, Director of Product Management
Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc.

Mapping Driving Behavior Boosts Business

Through the IMS portal (supported by Intel) insurers can offer policy holders a customized and branded web page showing potential discounts, driving skills data, the environmental impact of things like idling on fuel consumption, geo-fence settings to alert them if their vehicle is outside an approved area, and all their trip data.

“We provide visibility back to the policy holder on driving behavior that is considered potentially risky,” he explains. “In surveys, 80% of drivers say they are better than average, which we know isn’t statistically possible. DriveSync is a way to objectively report back to a driver where there are opportunities for improvement and the technology doesn’t lie.”

“We want to incent the drivers to drive as well as possible and we do that by showing them driving scores and information about their performance on the road. We help to keep the driver engaged in that portal by showing their potential discount. Good driving becomes a really big carrot for achieving a big discount,” says Dell.

Insurance companies have started offering IMS-built telematics programs, providing the ability to capture actionable vehicle and driving information.

“When the top insurance companies in North America brought our usage-based insurance technology to market, they substantially grew their policy business with good drivers that were attracted to the telematics-backed auto insurance they began to offer. DriveSync was attracting net new business and policy holders who were in fact better drivers with lower loss ratios. Some companies are seeing an improvement in their overall claims ratio because of the better driving habits of their policy holders and the ability to track and report back on behaviors to help improve skills,” says Dell.

In addition, insurers have recognized an opportunity to use DriveSync for young or new drivers. Parents can, for example, monitor speed or braking patterns for discussion with their young driver, and set geo-fences to view on an online map where the family vehicle has been driven.

Dell recalls during an insurance company trial, a parent was talking about the importance of safe driving with their young driver and about the erratic patterns displayed on the portal.  Dell says “the young driver said, ‘I got it Mom but I wasn’t actually driving that day. You had the car.’  This is a great example of how having the information right in front of you can help you improve your driving or have objective conversations about driving skills.”

“You can’t have a three- or four-hour processing backlog while you deal with the morning rush hour.”

– Christopher Dell, Director of Product Management
Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc.

Scaling Real-Time Response

To be effective, the DriveSync connected car platform needs to provide reporting in real time.

“Our system needs to perform at a very high level for us to be responsive to the customers and make their experience positive,” Dell explains.

IMS also needs to be able to make sure its analysis and reporting can handle peak load periods which, during morning and afternoon rush hours, can spike by more than ten times the levels processed at other times of the day.  The Intel-powered server network needs to be able to quickly scale to handle the increased demands.

In addition, if a geo-fence is breached, the policy holder needs to be alerted immediately so they can respond.

“You can’t have a three or four hour processing backlog while you deal with the morning rush hour. For consumers, they want to see diagnostics, geo-fence alerts, or accident notifications in real time as soon as we get it,” says Dell.

Driving Big Data Benefits

IMS isn’t simply repackaging data. “We are cleaning up the data, looking at anomalies and doing analysis on what is being transmitted to give drivers and insurers usable information.  There is a fair amount of heavy lifting to transform that information and be able to derive those insights about driving behavior that are coming from our core applications,” Dell explains.

For insurance companies, “we are providing data that enables usage-based insurance and allows actuaries to determine a fair price for insurance. We aggregate all that driving data and help them identify trends and patterns related to specific types of drivers, alerts, and times where drivers are at increased risks of incidents, such as late at night.”

“We are collecting a lot of information across a wide base and we do quite a bit of transformation and analysis on that data.  We are looking at trends to be able to infer intent or consequences. We also need to pull in third party data sources, which is processor intensive in terms of what we need to deliver to customers,” says Dell, adding IMS has plans to do even more tracking and analysis.  “The load we place on our servers is fairly significant in terms of what we are trying to do and I am not talking about taking data points and stuffing it into a database hoping to use it in the future. We are actually analyzing all those data points and then we are making insights based on that information.”

Greening a Fleet

For a fleet owner, DriveSync can help reduce costs and improve fleet performance by enabling an owner to see information about where their trucks are, how workers are driving, and take action to improve their driving score to qualify for insurance discounts next year. The owner can also set geo-fences to ensure company trucks stay within designated areas and can track if they are used for off-hours or non-business activities.

During a presentation, IMS showed an owner the amount of idling one truck was doing. “The owner confessed the vehicle was his and said

‘I knew I was burning fuel by idling but I never thought about the cost impact. Next time, I am going to shut down and do my work in a coffee shop instead of sitting in my vehicle.’”

"We can provide a charge based on distance, place and time with everyone paying a fair portion of road usage that is not tied how much fuel they are consuming."

– Christopher Dell, Director of Product Management
Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc.

Tracking Real Road Usage

In addition to the insurance and fleet applications, DriveSync is being tested to help state or provincial governments to move to a usage-based model for road maintenance.  Dell explains that with more fuel efficient vehicles and hybrid or electric cars, gas tax no longer provides an accurate reflection of the number of cars on the road, nor the impact of traffic loads.  Toll roads can be expensive to build so DriveSync can provide an alternative model to monitor road use that is not tied to fuel consumption.

“Using the same technology, we can provide a charge based on distance, place, and time with everyone paying a fair portion of road usage that is not tied how much fuel they are consuming,” Dell says, noting they have recently rolled out a project in the state of Oregon to do just that.  “We’re at the cusp of some great capabilities there and expect it go commercially live shortly.”

About Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc.

With a team of  intelligent transportation system experts, Waterloo, Ontario-based Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) was launched in 1999 and delivers the DriveSync connected car platform, an integrated, real-time solution that helps improve driving behavior to make the driving experience safer, smarter, and greener for corporate customers, insurers, and government agencies.

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