SWINDON, 14-Feb-2018 — /EuropaWire/ — Drivers over the age of 65 from across the UK are needed to take part in a new voluntary research project designed to help senior drivers stay on the road safely for longer.
DVLA figures show that more than 4.5 million of UK drivers are aged over 70, and the number of drivers aged over 90 has topped 100,000 for the first time. Driving and maintaining independence is an important part of life for a growing number of elderly but safety can be a concern for all involved.
Now, space-technology start-up company, Satsafe, has developed a unique driver monitoring system designed to help elderly drivers stay on the road safely for longer. The system can detect unusual changes in an individual’s driving patterns that could point to, for example, deterioration in eyesight or in reaction times, or just pick up that there is something going on which may be having an impact on driving behaviour and safety.
Satsafe are now looking for drivers, from across the UK, who are over the age of 65 to take part in a voluntary research programme, to trial the system and help develop additional features that will provide real benefit and peace of mind to family members and senior drivers alike.
Satsafe’s ‘Telematicam’ is a ‘plug and play’ innovation that provides safety and security benefit to users and their families. It can also be used to protect a driver who had been driving safely when an accident has taken place, providing back-up that they weren’t speeding or driving erratically at the time, and alert family and the emergency services that an incident has occurred and where.
The system, which combines black box technology and dash cameras with big data analytics, uses tiny ultra-sensitive sensors to form an accurate picture of how safely a car is being driven by an individual. These sensors gather information on acceleration and cornering forces as well harsh braking at junctions, which can be an early indicator of failing eyesight. A notification can be sent to family members if their relative is encountering difficulties that are potentially putting themselves and others at risk, or in worse cases, has been involved in an accident.
Satsafe CEO, Stuart Millward, said: “The key here is early intervention – notifying families when a parent’s driving habits have changed could save lives, but can also provide reassurance if there is concern about the onset of dementia, which could impair driving ability. We are really looking forward to working with our volunteers, to trial our technology and help us develop additional features that will provide real benefit and peace of mind to themselves and family members.”
This is quite close to home for Stuart, who recognised when his own father was showing early stages of dementia that the notification that Dad had gone out and returned home safely was a key feature that was very warmly received by the whole family.
For the last couple of years, Stuart has been developing his technology at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, with financial support from the European Space Agency’s business incubation programme. Further funding from the Liverpool City Region’s LCR4.0 programme and Innovate UK also enabled him to access to the high performance computing facilities at STFC’s Hartree Centre (home to some of the most advanced computing technologies and expertise in the UK) and the virtual prototyping capabilities of the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre, all of which are on site at Sci-Tech Daresbury.
“It’s been a particularly busy but productive couple of years,” added Stuart, “but thanks to the support we’ve had and access to the facilities and expertise on site here at Sci-Tech Daresbury, that a small businesses like us couldn’t otherwise have had access to, we’re excited to say that we are ready to validate our technology as we prepare for commercialisation in early 2018.
Professor Susan Smith, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “The Government recently reconfirmed its commitment to harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society, and to help our older citizens lead independent fulfilled lives. I can’t think of a more fitting example of this than what Satsafe is doing right now, and I’m thrilled that they have found the innovation support they need to do this right here at Sci-Tech Daresbury.”
Satsafe recently launched a successful call for volunteers in the North West to get a feel for the take-up of the service and its market potential, which has encouraged them to widen the call nationally and to continue recruiting drivers to the programme throughout the next 6 months.
Drivers who are aged 65 or over and who would like to volunteer to trial Satsafe’s telematic technology can do so via the Satsafe website.
Satsafe is the lead consortium partner for road safety work package in ‘CityVerve’ – the UK’s £10 million ‘smart city’ project in Manchester.
SOURCE: Science and Technology Facilities Council
Science and Technology Facilities Council
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