Everyone is bothered by poor drivers on the road. We are going to resolve this problem once and for all with the Flo driving style app. It coaches people while driving, because driving can be a lot cheaper, more social, better for the environment, more enjoyable and safer.

It is ‘the root of all evil’. Many unpleasant and even scary experiences in traffic boil down to one thing: a poor driving style. Drivers accelerate too quickly, speed down the road and then slam on the brakes at the last minute. And that leads to problems. Poor driving produces unsafe situations on the road.  It results in more accidents and a lot of frustration for drivers. It is bad for the environment because poor driving uses more fuel than necessary and it is expensive too. The car wears out more quickly (brake pads for example) and you have to pump fuel more often. What’s more, insurance rates could decrease significantly if we would all start being better drivers.

The human factor: driving style

There are a lot of reasons for poor driving. Some people are distracted because they are texting while driving, while some simply may not be very skilled at driving. Others are reckless because they are in a hurry, or they just like to drive fast. Whatever the case may be, poor driving is always caused by the human factor. With Flo we tackle the human factor. We have developed an app that provides real time feedback about your driving style. It is really easy: while you are driving the app tells you whether your driving style at that moment is good or fair. For example, it will let you know if you drive too fast round a bend or if you accelerate too quickly. Drivers will also receive a Flo score based on trips that shows how good or poor their driving was. This makes drivers aware of their driving habits and it shows them precisely at what times their driving style is completely unacceptable.

It is not as simple as it seems. You need to know what good driving is in order to carefully interpret the data. What is the best speed to go round the bend? When is someone driving too fast? When is someone driving too slow? These and many more questions must be considered. You have to analyse thousands of trips to determine the answers. We were able to create Flo because we focused on the knowledge we gained using a product that has been in existence for many years: Decos Cartracker. Cartracker is a track-and trace system in cars that records trips. Companies use Cartracker to manage their fleet and to promote better driving habits, but you can also gain wonderful insights from those millions of trips. The algorithms that have been developed as a result form the basis for Flo, an internal start-up of Decos.

Self-driving car

We still have a long way to go with the development of Flo. Flo is an app for your smartphone, which makes many more data sources available to you than just the GPS signal that we currently use. You can use your smartphone as a gyroscope (amount of movement) or as an accelerometer (acceleration) and link that data to your driving.  We can use this data to work on additional features for Flo, such as crash detection. That would be a great replacement for the expensive built-in systems in cars, such as eCall. What’s more, we want to detect smartphone use while driving and provide users insight to that information. We do not believe in prohibiting and shutting down systems, but we do believe in making people aware of dangerous driving habits.

Flo also has to change because the developments in the automotive sector are not standing still. Consumer behaviour has changed significantly. First of all, you see that the expectations people have of their car have increased tremendously over the past few years. In fact, people want their car to be just as smart as their smartphone and they do not understand when that is not the case. Car manufacturers are struggling with that also. You see that the concept of car ownership is undergoing profound changes as well. Where people used to have their own car, you now see that they do more with ride sharing. These days it is completely normal to not have a car, but people still find it convenient to use a car now and then. Sharing a car (using Snappcar for example), or hiring a car for a very short period of time (using Car2Go for example) is a solution in this case.

Cars will be self-driving at some point, but we do not think the role of Flo is over yet. We are currently giving feedback to people about their driving, but it is very possible that in the future we will give feedback to driving robots. A self-driving car must obviously also have good driving habits and we are an organization that understands good driving on a global basis. By the way, we do believe that we will still continue to focus on human driving for the next several decades.  Cars have an average lifetime of nineteen years. Therefore, it will take a very long time to transition to a situation in which we only have self-driving cars. We are idealistic, but also realistic… therefore, I am expecting that an app like Flo will still continue to be necessary. What could possibly happen in the future is that people will start driving so well due to Flo that the app will no longer be necessary. If that is the case, we will have fully accomplished our mission!