Big Brother in the car
Upgraded GPS device Dynamic Driver not only tells you how to drive, it can also report you to the police. For your own good.
Hatav’s accident, for example, occurred when he failed to stop at a stop sign that was obscured by a tree. As a result, he entered an impassable road at high speed, and his car turned over. Had Dynamic Driver been installed in his car, it would have warned him that there was a stop sign at the junction, even if the sign itself were covered, or had fallen down. In addition, the system would have warned him that he was driving too fast for the area around the stop sign. It might even have been possible to update the system’s main map to give a warning that the road that he was about to enter was impassable. The device can also warn drivers that they are parking in an illegal location, crossing a solid white line, about to enter a junction that they cannot get through in time, making a illegal U-turn, etc.
So far, this sounds like a tool that some drivers might buy for themselves in order to avoid accidents and tickets, and improve their driving. Ori Software’s entrepreneurs, however, are aiming much higher. “We’ll use my experience to make you better drivers,” says Hatav.
”We have two possible business plans,” says VP Amos Sadon, Hatav’s partner in the company, and one of the developers of the system. “One is to pass a law in the Knesset saying that every car sold in Israel must have such a device installed in it. If such a law isn’t passed, we’ll have to appeal to private consumers. In that case, we’ll sell the system to vehicle fleets and parents of children who are new drivers, so that they can use it.
”If the law is passed requiring each car to install the program, every violation by a driver will be monitored: every case of speeding, every illegal stop, every U-turn, and every failure to stop at a stop sign. The device will compare what is required by field conditions to the car’s behavior, and issue a ticket the moment that the rules are broken.
"Globes": Will every violation be sent immediately to the police? It seems to me that they won’t be able to handle the load of tickets.
Sadon: ”The system can be calibrated to issue a warning first, and a ticket only on the tenth violation, or to issue tickets only for particularly serious violations. Everything will be done automatically; there will be no overload on the police.”
There will surely be a flood of appeals by traffic violators claiming that the device is inaccurate.
Hatav: ”The device is accurate. We’ll develop it to such a degree that it can constitute proof in a courtroom.”
Look, I’m against traffic accidents, but the idea that a Trojan Horse like this in my own car is telling me how to driver and reporting to the police makes me a little uptight. A man’s car is his castle.
Sadon and Hatav see it differently. “Are you telling me that you won’t thank me for a machine that will cost you a NIS 100 ticket if it saves you from a traffic accident that will cost you thousands of shekels, not to mention your life?”, Sadon says. Hatav adds, “You won’t talk like that after you’ve been in a traffic accident. This device can prevent so many accidents I say a quarter of accidents, and that’s a very conservative estimate.”
It appears that the Ministry of Transport is in no hurry to install the program, which will cost NIS 600 per device, but which will generate significant revenue on tickets from every car in Israel. “The Minister of Transport is excited about the idea of requiring installation of the device for serious traffic violators only, which comprises 500,000 drivers,” Hatav explains. “The idea is that drivers whose licenses have been suspended will be able to get their licenses back only if the device is installed. If the device reports another serious violation, or a series of minor violations, the driver’s license will be suspended again.”
What were you doing in Beit Hakerem?
Under the second scenario, in which the Knesset does not enact a law requiring every car to install the device, the company will have to market to consumers interested in the device, such as parents, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and corporate vehicle fleets.
Hatav: ”All children drive best when their parents are sitting next to them. With the device, mothers and fathers can get a message the moment that their child commits a violation. For example, if the child gets a speeding ticket in Beit Hakerem, the parents can say, ‘You won’t get the car until you drive like a human being. Furthermore, what were you doing in Beit Hakerem, when you said you were in Tel Aviv?’ In this case, the parents will get the message, not the police.”
Can’t the device be turned off?
Sadon: ”No. The minute the device is turned off, it sends a message to the parents. If a child starts to sabotage the device, it can warn the child, ‘If you get one inch closer, I’ll tell your parents.’”
Are companies with vehicle fleets interested in monitoring their employees like this?
Hatav: ”Yes, because proper driving preserves the car. We’ve already initiated a pilot program with the IDF, which is very interested in the system. In March 2006, we’re due to start a pilot with them for about 200 vehicles.”
I want to buy the system for myself, but without reporting to anyone. Is that possible?
”Yes, I assume that it’s possible.”
They’ll wait for us overseas
Hatav was formerly a partner and CEO at Osher Systems Computerization & Regulation Ltd. Ilan Davidovich, Ori Software’s business development manager, developed the idea with Hatav. He is a college lecturer and adviser in computers and aeronautics. Sadon, Ori Software’s VP, who joined a little later, was an engineering technician in electronics at Elta Electronic Industries.
Ori Software’s entrepreneurs and private investors have invested $350,000 to date in the company. The company needs another $200,000 for the order and installing the Dynamic Driver in the IDF pilot project.
Developing a map of stop signs, roads, and hazards is one of the key points in the product’s success. Ori Software is therefore very excited about a cooperation initiative from Mapa, one of Israel’s leading map publishers. Ori Software is just as excited about other potential partners who have contacted it. “We’re interested in investing, but we definitely won’t sell the company for a mess of pottage at the first generous offer,” Hatav says. “At the moment, an investor is waiting for our answer as to whether we’ll take him into the company. We’re checking him out. If we aren’t convinced that all of the company’s activity will take place according to the purposes for which we founded it, we won’t sell any of it. None of us depends on this company for a living. We’re all doing other things.”
Are you cooperating with organizations that promote careful driving, such as Or Yarok (Green Light)?
”We’re not actively cooperating with these organizations, although we’re in regular contact with them. Or Yarok hasn’t joined forces with us, because they’re fully occupied with increasing awareness of traffic accidents and changing priorities, not in any particular solution. They’re doing good work, and they’re more open to our suggestions than they have been in the past.”
Hatav stresses that despite its motivation, his company has real economic viability behind it, not just ideology. “Anybody investing in the company will make a big profit in the long run, in addition to the wonderful knowledge that he has saved lives,” he declares.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on August 1, 2005
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