Auto Insurance Gets Smart

Create: 08/08/2017 - 15:26
usage-based insurance UBI

Photo: Intel RealSense™ technology for vehicle safety


The insurance industry may be the next market ready for an IoT disruption. On the whole, rate options offered by insurance providers still rely on out-of-date underwriting practices that focus on factors such as age and gender—which are not under the control of the customers—rather than focusing on their actual driving habits. With such inflexible factors largely determining pricing, there’s a frustrating limit to how much you can actually save.

Other changeable variables that have nothing directly to do with your driving, such as marital status, immediately—and significantly—affect rates even though the person’s individual driving history hasn’t changed a bit. According to a study commissioned by InsuranceQuotes, on average, a single 20-year-old male pays 25 percent more than a married 20-year-old male does for the same auto insurance coverage. Fortunately, IoT technologies are beginning to change how the auto insurance industry determines rates, making it possible for drivers to personally affect how much their coverage costs.

A Better Way to Better Rates

Powered by connected devices, usage-based insurance (UBI) is leading the charge in revolutionizing how insurance rates are calculated. With the driver’s permission, these smart devices enable real-time transmission of data on driving practices. This newer kind of auto insurance uses IoT technology to track and monitor the customer’s speed, braking and more. As a result, insurers are able to reward safer driving practices with lower premiums. They can also better tailor their offers to the actual habits and preferences of the customer, rather than relying on the broad categories of the past.

The three most significant benefits of UBI, as compared to old-school policy options, are found in its ability to positively affect driving behavior, produce more accurate risk assessments and lower premiums for safe drivers.

1.) Encourages Positive Behavior Modification and Risk Reduction

IoT sensors provide feedback that can be used to help positively influence driver behaviors, encouraging a reduction of the driver’s risk level. Using real-time data collection, the drivers’ insurer can send positive messages to their smartphone when they are engaging in safe driving behaviors, such as speed limit or seatbelt compliance. These increases in responsible actions benefit both the driver and the carrier since risk reduction translates into lower costs for both parties.

2.) Increases the Accuracy of Risk Assessment

Enabled by IoT-technology, telematics data delivers a much more accurate and complete view of a driver’s actual behavior. Mounted in the vehicle, the telematics device captures pertinent information such as what time of day driving is taking place, journey duration, acceleration rates, corner speeds, braking and more. Insurers then analyze that data to form an accurate “safety and risk” profile for the driver, allowing them to provide more appropriately priced offerings.

3.) Lowers Young Customers’ Premiums While Increasing Satisfaction

Policies that are based on how you actually drive can result in up to 40 percent lower premiums for drivers aged 18 to 23. As millennials continue to gain in market share, the attractiveness of technology-based services only increases in turn. In addition to tracking driving practices, additional integrations can enable drivers to do things such as feed their precise mileage into expense-tracking programs, track gas costs per trip or easily split gas costs with fellow carpoolers.

UBI models are the future of auto insurance and expected to increasingly dominate the market. Safe drivers will go where the best rate is, making IoT-enabled UBI a win-win proposition.

Get Ready for the New Model

IoT Drives Road Safety Improvements

Create: 07/28/2017 - 17:43

Photo: Said El Said, Tennessee Dept. of Transportation, Traffic Operations Division


Driving is risky business. While autonomous cars are predicted to decrease road fatalities, we will certainly have to wait years for them to hit the road. Meanwhile, other IoT solutions are coming to market that can help drivers. These include systems that can help transportation agencies detect bad road conditions and communicate information to drivers in a timely way.

The key to these solutions is machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity. In 2016, connected devices numbered 8 billion worldwide, and M2M connections exceeded personal device connections for the first time. According to IDC, that device number will skyrocket to 80 billion by the year 2025—not to mention that by 2020 IoT will be a $1.46 trillion market overall. All of which puts IoT technology in a prime position to revolutionize almost every area of infrastructure, including improving what’s happening on roadways.

The unpredictable nature of bad traffic conditions and the hazards they bring are all too familiar to drivers across the country. Two companies, Cisco and Microsoft, are stepping in with helpful IoT solutions.

Smart Solutions for Hazardous Conditions

At May’s IoT World Forum in London, Cisco announced its collaboration with Microsoft to power intelligent actions—a combination of IoT and machine learning—to lend a hand precisely where and when it is needed to help prevent crashes on foggy roads. The company demonstrated a live mock-up of a fog detection system it implemented in the state of Tennessee, with the cooperation of the US Department of Transportation.

The system deployed on the roads of Tennessee uses the IoT Operations Platform to connect various smart devices that sense fog, traffic speed and other measurements, paired with illuminated traffic warnings that are activated when the fog rolls in. 

The demo proved that the IoT safety-improving solution could deliver during truly rough conditions. After re-configuring it in real time in the central platform, the Internet connection was cut, to illustrate how the solution was still able to successfully perform its function using distributed computing power alone.

IoT Goes North to the Future

Cisco has also been at work in the Last Frontier State helping facilitate the relay of information that is essential to keeping drivers safe on Alaska’s most remote stretches of road—specifically, its Dalton and Elliott Highways.

Previously, the state had no method that would allow them to quickly determine local conditions along these far-flung thoroughfares. Responding to weather conditions was fraught with delays, largely caused by the numerous calls necessary to find a person in the area that could give a firsthand report on any meaningful weather incident.

Alaska IoT transportation


In its effort to achieve absolute reliability in extreme weather conditions, Cisco leveraged IoT technology to implement radio, telephone and Internet communication capabilities along what is one of the harshest stretches of highway in the United States.

The company worked with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, deploying Cisco Connected Roadways solutions, Cisco Unified Communications solutions and Cisco Instant Connect. With the help of the new solution, the state improved communication, safety and emergency response in the field by better connecting people, things, processes and data.

Technology that Makes a Difference

If you or your customers are considering leveraging IoT transportation technologies to enable working smarter and safer, see how Intel’s Smart Transportation solutions can help

Driverless Shuttles Are Ready for Primetime

Create: 07/18/2017 - 14:46
autonomous shuttles

Photo: Driverless shuttle Las Vegas/NAVYA and Keolis Commuter Services


Autonomous vehicles are on the fast track for development, and the segment for the cars along with the related IoT technology is promising to be a high growth area. According to global management consulting firm BCG, from 2025 to 2035 growth in the market for partially and fully autonomous vehicles will likely reach between $42 billion and $77 billion.

One of the biggest players in the autonomous shuttle space is the French company NAVYA and its ARMA offering. Initially launched in October 2015, the ARMA is a 100 percent electric and autonomous transport vehicle. The environmentally friendly shuttle’s batteries can be recharged by induction and can last from 5 to 13 hours depending on the configuration and traffic conditions.

The first Level 5 entirely autonomous series vehicle, the ARMA does not require any driver or specific infrastructure and is capable of adapting to any situation by avoiding both static and dynamic obstacles. It can transport up to 15 passengers and safely drive up to 27.9 mph. The shuttle is the fruit of 10 years of research and technological expertise.

Design Pillars

The NAVYA ARMA’s technical design resides on three pillars—perception, decision and navigation:

  • Perception enables the understanding of the environment in which the vehicle is located, detecting obstacles and anticipating possible displacements.
  • Decision computes and determines its itinerary and trajectory.
  • Navigation applies and follows the most optimal route computed for the vehicle.

The vehicle is equipped with state-of-the-art multi-sensor technology which includes LIDAR sensors, GPS RTK, an odometer and camera stereovision.

NAVYA has been gaining significant market traction in the United States this year with multiple deployments of its flagship ARMA, including those in Las Vegas, Ann Arbor, Michigan and a yet to be solidified partnership with Walt Disney World in Florida.

Autonomous High Rollers

A pilot deployed in Las Vegas in January using NAVYA’s ARMA enabled people in the Fremont Street entertainment district of downtown to summon a free driverless shuttle ride with the simple push of a button.

While the oval-shaped bus did have a human assistant, it had no driver, no steering wheel and no brake pedal. Running right in the thick of regular traffic—using electronic curb sensors, GPS and additional technology—the ARMA doesn’t depend on lane lines to make its way along busy Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street.

The pilot demonstration was conducted inside the new Innovation District, which is designed as a testing ground for technology in the sectors of transportation and alternative energy. The city has also invested considerably in its connected infrastructure, which includes connected traffic lights throughout the downtown area.

The project was made possible by a partnership between NAVYA and public transportation systems operator Keolis North America.

U of M Makes a Smart Vehicle Choice

Beginning in the fall of this year, two of NAVYA’s driverless shuttles will be deployed at the University of Michigan. The entirely autonomous shuttle buses will service a two-mile route between the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road and the Lurie Engineering Center, carrying a maximum of 15 passengers.

The shuttles are being deployed in partnership with Mcity, the University of Michigan’s 32-acre testing facility where tech startups and automakers frequently test self-driving vehicles. Students, teachers and visitors will be able to able to hitch a ride in the driverless pods free of charge.

Historically a leader in the automotive industry, Michigan is hoping to position itself as a leader in the autonomous driving industry, too. In December 2016 its Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that will allow fully driverless cars on the state’s roads as soon as the vehicles are ready to go.

Where Futuristic Transportation Dreams Come True

Florida’s Walt Disney World looks to be readying to launch what would be perhaps the highest-profile commercial use of driverless shuttles yet. The family entertainment goliath is testing a fleet of driverless shuttles that could ultimately be used to ferry visitors through myriad parking lots and around its sprawling theme parks.

The company is said to be in late-stage negotiation with at least two autonomous shuttle manufacturers—NAVYA, and Local Motors, based in Phoenix. It is not yet clear if contracts would go to only one of the companies, or to both.

According to anonymous sources, the company is planning to begin a pilot program later this year that would use the electric autonomous vehicles to transport employees across its vast campus. If successful, the pilot would be followed sometime next year by shuttles that would transport park visitors through parking areas and around the numerous parks.

There are no current plans for the deployment of driverless shuttles at Disneyland in California, according to the sources. While the reason remains unclear, it may have something to do with California’s stricter regulations around autonomous vehicles vs. Florida’s few restrictions on driverless vehicle deployments.

IoT autonomous shuttles

Image: Intel

Hit the Road

  • Learn more about autonomous driving at Mcity and find out more about its partner network.
  • See what is on the horizon for autonomous driving powered by Intel.
  • Think about how to get your share of the $7 trillion market size future, see the infographic and download the Intel repot: The Passenger Economy

Commercial Drones Getting Their Own Air Traffic Control System

Create: 07/06/2017 - 17:54
Drone traffic control

Photo: Intel/Falcon 8+ System


Drones are starting to fly the open sky in droves, as manufacturers, governments and businesses discover new ways to put drones to work.  This broad range of opportunities is reflected in rapid market growth. The FAA estimates that by 2020 7 million drones could be whizzing around the United States. That’s a whole lot of new activity in the air.

The upside for the commercial use of drones is big, with PricewaterhouseCoopers putting the 2016 global market value for commercial applications of drone technology at over $127 billion. But, balancing profitability with safety and efficiency is key to maximizing the long-term commercial economic value drones hold. A responsible eye needs to be kept on protecting both people and property.

How do you make sure drones deliver on the good—satisfying customers while making and saving businesses more money—while avoiding the possible negative consequences? It’s easy to see how 7 million drones could wreak havoc if not properly managed, potentially creating seriously dangerous mid-air collisions—not just with other drones, but also with passenger aircrafts. 

What’s needed is a scalable, flexible and secure traffic system that can enable millions of drone operators to safely use their devices at the same time. Fortunately, the development of such a system is already underway.

Getting Smart about Managing Drone Air Traffic

Parimal Kopardekar, principal investigator at NASA for unmanned aerial systems traffic management, has created an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM) system to help avoid the dangerous collisions that could be caused by quickly multiplying drone traffic.

Drone flight traffic control

Photo: Intel iQ

This traffic will be particularly concerning once regulations give the green light to drones flying beyond the line of sight. While current drone users are relying on their own eyes to avoid crashes—as stipulated in the FAA’s most recent guidelines—as soon as they are allowed to venture beyond the line of sight, having electronic tracking will be of paramount importance.

Fueling Innovation Through Cooperation

An extensive list of industry partners has joined forces with the FAA and NASA, investigating the requirements necessary to determine and establish an effective and reliable drone traffic management system—with an autonomous system being the ultimate goal.

Similar to how the Department of Transportation outlined safety guidelines for self-driving cars but left it to companies to create and refine solutions and products, the FAA is leveraging the innovation of private enterprises to tackle the challenge of balancing flight efficiency and safety within the potential commercial drone super-skyway. The goal is to conclude research by 2019 and submit ideas for the FAA to implement by 2025.

Innovation in Action

In early June of this year, Alphabet’s Project Wing, Intel and Virginia Tech performed multiple exercises to test a drone delivery traffic system being created by the Project Wing team.

James Ryan Burgess, the co-lead of Project Wing, had his team test its UTM platform at an FAA site run by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. Piloted by a single Wing operator, the Three Wing aircraft performed package pickup and delivery missions in the same area where MAPP flew a DJI Inspire on an automated search and rescue mission and Intel was piloting two Intel Aero Ready to Fly Drones.

These are the kinds of projects the FAA is depending on to create a system that will reach flight efficiency and safety goals. Alphabet’s air traffic control system was able to successfully re-route the drones to avoid collisions in real-time—an extremely promising result. Next on the agenda, scale it up big time.

Using Smart Drones

If you and your customers are ready for takeoff in the drone market, watch the video to learn more the Intel Aero Ready to Fly Drone that includes the Intel Aero Compute Board and the Intel RealSense™ R200 camera.

City of San Leandro Innovates with Fiber Optic Master Plan, IoT

Create: 07/05/2017 - 15:44
San Leandro smart city



In California, officials in the City of San Leandro are making big changes—and counting on high-speed networking and the IoT—to convert their town from being just another San Francisco Bay Area suburb to a connected smart city. Officials have adamantly made it a priority to use IoT technology to become a smart city, one that connects the community to informative data, makes tech-centric improvements to existing regional infrastructure and increases the percentage of citywide use of renewable energy. 

Fast Fiber Loop

One of the most recent mechanisms employed by the City of San Leandro is the construction of a high-speed fiber loop within the city’s existing urban infrastructure. Beginning in 2012 as the Lit San Leandro project, the plan is to construct a 20-mile commercial fiber optic ring that connects businesses and non-profits to the Internet at speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second. The loop will bridge together all accessible IoT-created data, so that information can be transferred to a server for government officials to analyze in the future.

San Leandro’s first IoT projects—automated LED streetlights and a remote-controlled irrigation system—are already installed and operational. The LED lights are predicted by local planners to save $8 million in the next 15 years and will reduce San Leandro’s dependence on nonrenewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dirty power plants.

The gains from these two projects have led the city to pursue additional IoT projects and connect all its IoT data systems on a fiber loop. With this collection of big data gathered in one spot, officials can determine how to best apply information derived from the IoT sensors to better improve the livelihoods of, and resources for, the city’s 84,950 residents.

In a recent interview with Statescoop, San Leandro’s Chief Information Officer Debbie Acosta stated the necessity of addressing the intersection of smart city goals and IoT technology. “Smart city and IoT technologies are important, because they’re going to enable us to gather data about things we couldn’t know about in the past, which allows us to make better decisions.”  The United States Economic Development Administration granted the city with $2.1 million to help fund the city’s fiber loop.

Sunny San Leandro

The implementation of smart city strategies in San Leandro isn’t particularly new. While the city itself has a thriving industrial and manufacturing business base, it is located between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, so it is surrounded on all sides by companies on the leading edge of technology innovation.

San Leandro smart city


San Leandro originally began the shift to smart technology with the installation of solar panels across the city. Ideally, the city could reach 100 percent renewable energy production and consumption as the cost of electricity has dramatically decreased in the last few years.

San Leandro city officials intend to continue the push toward complete dependence on renewable energy, and the plan is currently financially supported by a $1.5 million grant provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC). If city officials determine that this energy network plan continues to be successful, then the city is likely to receive an $8 million grant from the CEC.

A Bright Light in a Smart City

CIO Acosta is one of San Leandro’s biggest proponents of the city’s transition to a smart city. She stated in an interview with Smart Cities Week, that “smart city applications will provide the city with the right data, visualized for easy analysis, needed to make better decisions that improve the quality of life for our residents, businesses, visitors and the city organization. Our initiatives reflect that focus.”

Some specific examples of citywide initiatives include:

●     A $5.2 million project to increase the efficiency of the city’s lighting systems by converting street lights to LED technology; all costs of the initiative are covered by energy savings.

●     Partnerships among multiple public and private entities to create a scalable system for expanding renewable energy resources in San Leandro as well as dozens of other cities in California.

●      A Fiber Optic Master Plan, also known as the Smart City Strategy, as part of San Leandro’s recently updated General Plan to accommodate and fulfill the needs of the city’s visitors, businesses, schools and residents. 

Get Smart about Smart City Technology

To read more about San Leandro’s transition into a smart city, read the full interview with San Leandro CIO Acosta. Solution providers may also be interested in viewing the city’s Fiber Optic Master Plan and reviewing the specifications and usage plans. And finally, find out how to partner with the Lit San Leandro public-private partnership to create the fiber loop. 

Bike Sharing Expansion Poised to Create Valuable New Data Resource

Create: 06/20/2017 - 16:57
FordGoBike IoT data

Photo: Ford GoBike


The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s existing 10-year operations contract with Brooklyn, NY’s Motivate is expanding in a big way, bringing its bike-sharing program to the East Bay. Originally launched in San Francisco and San Jose, the program is expanding east to include Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. The current 470 bikes in rotation will be skyrocketing to 7,000 by the end of next year.

With Ford Motor Company taking over as the primary sponsor, the program and new bikes are being rebranded as Ford GoBike. Motivate is already busy replacing existing teal bikes with the new blue models and installing stations and bikes across the three recently included cities. The GoBike system will become operational June 28 in San Francisco and San Jose, with the new East Bay service beginning July 11.

Keeping the Wheels Turning

Motivate uses a data-driven rebalancing system to get bikes in the right places. Rebalancing is the term for repositioning bikes to ensure bicycles and docks are available where and when customers need them, which is a challenge for all transportation sharing options, especially in heavily used systems.

Motivate has pioneered analytical approaches and operational solutions to these challenges, including partnering with Cornell University to help create predictive rebalancing models. The company is also partnering with vendors to create rebalancing tricycles, a greener and more efficient way to move bikes across short distances.

Connected Bikes = Valuable Data

While at first glance Ford’s GoBike investment could be seen purely as a business move to increase brand awareness in a new market, they see the gambit as a bigger opportunity than might first meet the eye.

According to Jim Hackett, Ford’s former chairman of Smart Mobility, who is now the company’s CEO, its interest in bike sharing goes well beyond simple branding. The real interest lies in potential untapped data that could be gained from the connected capabilities of the new bike fleets.

Speaking at an investor conference in September 2016 about Ford GoBike and Chariot, the San Francisco shuttle service that Ford bought last year, Hackett explained why the company’s interest in sponsoring bike sharing in the Bay Area is unique. “What we are doing differently in San Francisco that isn’t done in New York is we put telemetry on that bike; telemetry is a form of communication,” he said. “So now the bike is pinging data to us. Listen, here is the deal—the opportunity is not bikes. That is not why Ford is in it.”

FordGoBike IoT analytics


Hackett expounded, “The opportunity is data. And the data is super valuable because it tells us these invisible paths that people are taking in this complex city in terms of how they want to get around. And there is something else cool about it, because we can take that data and we can connect it in ways that our new shuttle is going to connect to the cloud as well.”

While according to Ford officials, the new bikes do not include technology that collects real-time data (weather conditions and bike availability), the potential to collect them in the future remains. Motivate expects to have location-based services on the app by the end of the year, which will provide users with data about their mileage traveled and calories burned. Like with any app, users will still be able to turn the service off.

Smart Transportation

Ford believes that involved cities have a huge opportunity to derive tremendous value in the form of insights that come from capturing transportation data.


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