MONTREAL—Driver simulations aren’t new, but one tech startup sees potential for using the technology to lower insurance rates for good drivers.
Nervtech specializes in developing vehicle simulator technologies in the fields of biometric and cognitive driver evaluation. The company is marketing its Driving Simulator as a tool for insurance companies to quickly evaluate a driver’s potential safety risks.
“We are the first one to put everything together and do simulations as part of a total package that includes an in-depth assessment,” says Luka Novak, the firm’s business developer.
At the Movin’On Summit held in Montreal in early June, Nervtech demonstrated its simulation software, drawing scores of people to test their driving prowess.
Most scored high marks for following the traffic rules but didn’t do so well when they had to deal with unexpected scenarios. These included a bicyclist approaching from a driver’s blind spot on a busy downtown street, a child suddenly darting across the road or driving in foggy conditions when there is a crash ahead. The technology creates realistic driving experiences based on a variety of locations, weather conditions and distraction factors, Novak said.
The technology doesn’t just track how drivers perform in difficult scenarios but also what is going on with their bodies while they are driving. During the 25-minute test, drivers wear eyeglasses that track eye movement to monitor if they are scanning for the dangers around them. They also wear bracelets that measure their level of stress, based on their heart rate and how much they perspire.
Using artificial intelligence software, Nervtech synthesizes data gleaned during the simulation and quickly determines driving skill.
“We are in the top of the industry because of the data we collect from the driver and simulation environment itself. Massive data sets are then processed with our machine-learning algorithms and AI, that evaluate the driver in real time,” Novak said.
In the company’s country of Slovenia, one insurance company is piloting a program that invites young drivers to take a 20-minute driving simulation of different scenarios.
Driver training tool
Novak says insurance companies are using the Nervtech system to assess a driver’s risk by analyzing driving skills based on areas that include safety, efficiency, distraction and stress responses.
Besides insurance companies, Nervtech is also marketing to fleet operators who are looking for better ways to train drivers. The technology can assess skills from advanced maneuvering to responses in a variety of traffic and weather conditions.
“In the evaluation, we observe driver attention, driving style, aggression, reaction times, stress level, traffic rules violations and eco-driving. We observe driver cognitive and physiological activities with advanced sensors and use our proprietary machine-learning algorithms to assess the ‘score’ in real-time,” Novak said.
The product can be customizable to replicate real situations, whether it’s driving through a congested downtown or through a snowstorm.
The startup is looking for partners to open driving simulator hubs, where Nervtech can train drivers and collect data on a massive scale, Novak said.