It Is Impossible to Combat Car Accidents Without State Intervention and Support. Interview with Roman Ferster

It Is Impossible to Combat Car Accidents Without State Intervention and Support. Interview with Roman Ferster

Warning drivers of 1.5–2 seconds before potential danger, one can prevent up to 95% of the accidents,” Roman Ferster, CEO at RGRAUTO Ltd., believes. In an interview with Connected Car Conference, the expert talks about new-generation driver assistance systems, explains how they develop the culture of responsible driving, and stresses the role of the state in preventing car accidents.   

Interviewer: Connected Car Conference (CCC)

Respondent: Roman Ferster (R.F.)

ССС: How reliable are modern driver assistance systems? When can they crash?     

R.F.: Modern safety systems usually have protection mechanisms designed not only for self-control, but also for informing drivers of potential system failures or limitations. For example, Mobileye informs drivers of poor visibility or bad road markings, making them be more careful. It is a quite significant option. According to my experience with Mobileye’s operations, failures or false alerts are near-zero. 

The system proved to be a quite reliable driver assistant. Currently, almost all global car manufacturers use Mobileye technology in their new vehicles. Mobileye-based driver assistance features can be ordered in 400 models by 30 car makers.   

The Mobileye system can be retrofitted in any on-the-road car as an extra safety accessory (Aftermarket).    

ССС: What is the impact of such systems on human driving skills?   

R.F.: There is a misconception that driver assistance systems relax people as well as lead to addiction and loss of common driving skills.

Maybe it is possible with such systems as SPC/SPS and ABS that are almost invisible to drivers. If they change the car without similar systems, it can happen.       

However, Mobileye is an assistant on board, which warns of potential dangers, possible accidents, and other circumstances leading to accident situations. At the same time, the system does not intervene in vehicle control, and drivers fix the problem on their own. ABS or CPC/CPS activates in case of disaster and fixes it, while Mobileye activates a few seconds before the potential accident situation and gives drivers time to react and to conduct a maneuver in order to prevent an accident.         

Such an interactive and continuous interaction with drivers improves their discipline and teach to keep a safe distance. Drivers simply get used to apply turn signals, yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, adhere to the permitted speed rate at each road section.

Consequently, the system advances drivers’ behavior in general at an intuitive level. Therefore, they will drive carefully even a car without the Mobileye system.   

Studies shows that 95% of the road crashes are caused by the human factor, in the last three seconds prior to the clash. Drivers who have learned and accustomed to keep a safe distance to a vehicle in front won’t have to brake extremely hard. Balanced and safe driving leads not only to calmness of drivers, passengers, and other road users, but also in substantial fuel savings and reduction of maintenance costs, wear and tear, etc. In the context of fleets, it means significant savings for the company.   

ССС: Tell us about your company, RGRAUTO. What solutions do you offer for the integration into vehicles?  

R.F.: RGRAUTO is a provider of turn-key solutions for improving safety and efficiency of private and public fleets, optimizing fleets of municipal services and housing and public utilities, as well as logistics companies. The company helps professional drivers and private users keep safe on the roads, to avoid accidents, save life, and save on vehicle maintenance and operation expenses. RGRAUTO also offers a range of state-of-the-art solutions for smart cities and for public transport operators.        

We integrate solutions by world’s industry leaders such as Mobileye-Intel, Orpak-Gilbarco, Cloud-Wise, MiX Telematics, GreenRoad, Ituran, Geotab, and others. These cutting edge solutions are perfectly tailored to the unique requirements of our customers. 

ССС: What challenges do your solutions help to address? 

R.F.: Our solutions can fulfill various tasks in different areas. For example, in auto-insurance: the main obstacle to the mass adoption of telematics in the auto-insurance sector is the necessity of installing the telematic unit in the car. Even the simplest installation with minimum connection to the car battery requires certain skills, time, and cause logistics difficulties. 

In such a huge country as Russia there is another challenge associated with in-vehicle installation: the lack of authorized technicians in each region. So installation cost, necessity in having technical specialists throughout the country, their transfer to remote locations make the integration of conventional GPS/GLONASS trackers in its classic form-factor - complicated and expensive.

I-Sticker - our new solution - solves this problem. It is aimed at fast and easy deployment of in-vehicle satellite monitoring and driving behavior control system, which does not require professional installation.

I-Sticker was initially designed for insurance companies looking for a user-friendly solution for integrating smart insurance programs based on Pay As You Drive and Pay How You Drive patterns. Just stick the I-Sticker on your vehicle windshield and go. Within a minute is ready, up and running.       

Another unique solution is Shield Plus by Mobileye. A set of smart  camera units not only help drivers of large vehicles, operating in urban environment to avoid crashes with pedestrians and cyclists, but it also informs fleet operators or the municipal traffic control centers in real time about road troubles, infrastructure deficiencies and damages or other issues requiring an immediate care, allowing cities or fleets to promptly redirect traffic in order to bypass danger areas and efficiently resolve the issues.     

ССС: What was the most difficult case study in your experience at RGRAUTO?  

R.F.: We do not have simple or complex case studies in terms of the deployment of our solutions. Each use case is unique, and we cope with this due to the flexibility of our solutions. 

For instance, when customers ask for a standard or basic fleet monitoring solution, we install our iFleet all-in-one tracker. When clients have additional requests (e.g. remote vehicle health diagnostics or on-board computer data transmission using the Controller Area Network – CAN), we just activate all new features via the admin portal. Our customers do not have to replace recently deployed equipment or refit it with extra “boxes” unlike offers by other telematics manufacturers.  

ССС: What are the key factors, in your opinion, preventing broader adoption of intelligent driver assistants?  

R.F.: The lack of state backing. Working in many countries, I can say that it is impossible to combat car accidents without state intervention and support. 

In all countries widely integrating driver assistance systems (ADAS), the authorities have adopted a range of laws on encouraging both citizens and businesses related to the automotive industry, car insurance, etc. Some countries oblige to equip vehicles of over 3.5 tons with ADAS with lane-departure warning (LDW) and forward collision warning (HMW/FCW) options. New drivers in certain countries are able to insure themselves only if they have such a system.         

States motivate secondhand car owners to install similar systems by providing them with discounts on annual motor vehicle inspection and other compulsory measures, which makes ADAS installation in a used car more advantageous. 

Not to mention the fact that taking care of its citizens, the state gains their priceless loyalty. And this aspect affects a great deal of other factors as well. 

For example, the Government of Israel has allocated $50 million on the deployment of ADAS systems into secondhand cars. The population of Israel is almost equal to Moscow’s. Even simple estimations show that expenses and losses of the Russian Government because of accidents in Moscow exponentially exceed $50 million. According to studies, warning drivers of 1.5–2 seconds before potential danger, one can prevent up to 95% of the accidents. But even the prevention of 40–50% is a big deal.       

ССС: Examining the Russian market, how important is the availability of driver assistance systems for Russian citizens? 

R.F.: As of today, Russians are not quite serious about road safety. Drivers crudely violate the traffic rules and believe that nothing can  happen to them on the road. Understanding the importance of traffic safety should be educated and developed. Usually, it is the state and various organizations under the auspices of the government that should be responsible for this activity.       

One should form and advance realizing of the importance of car accident prevention and human life saving. Russia has recently started invoking people to use seatbelts, child car seats, and other safety accessories that have been obvious in other developed countries for many years. Russia and former Soviet states do not think of ADAS yet. At the same time, they are talking a lot about self-driving vehicles.         

Approximately 30,000 people die on Russian roads every year: about 600 people in a week, almost 100 individuals per day. Apart from irrecoverable private human tragedies, car accidents cause dramatic damages to the country’s economy.        

To make these figures more meaningful, I will specify the amount of people died in air accidents as a comparison. When a plane with 200 passengers crashes, the country announces a three-day mourning period. It is an enormous tragedy, as entire families and children die. What we can see here: 600 people are gone every week, it’s like three planes with 200 passengers crash; kids, whole families die; hundreds of thousands of victims become disabled for the rest of their life. And nobody does anything about it.           

Everyone says that it is significant to call an ambulance, rescue services, EMERCOM, and firefighters after the accident, but nobody suggests thinking of the prevention of such accidents. But one can and should fight with accidents. People should realize how important it is and desire to take measures, set up necessary regulations and laws. There is no need to recreate the wheel: one can just borrow experience of other countries such as Israel that successfully combats car accidents.   

ССС: What will your presentation at Connected Car Conference on May 23 be dedicated to? 

R.F.: I will dedicate the majority of my presentation to connected ADAS systems. Next-generation driver assistance systems are designed not only to help drivers due to an expanded list of options and new features, but also to make our cities smarter and safer. I will talk about Mobileye’s achievements of 2018, projects and plans for 2019–2020, and also about self-driving cars. I will also explain why it is impossible to create an unmanned vehicle without previous experience in the development of ADAS systems and why it is crucial to work on both areas (ADAS and AV) in parallel. If time permits, I will show I-Sticker.     


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