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Transportation

Uber's Smartphone-Based Gyrometer Monitoring Seems To Be the Future of Driving (thestack.com) 85

An anonymous reader writes: Uber has announced that it has been conducting trials in Houston, Texas, since late 2015 which use data from the gyrometer in drivers' smartphones, combined with accelerometer and GPS data, to perform forensic analysis on Uber journeys where the customer flagged up errant driving behavior such as speeding or tailgating. Uber's post also indicates that talking on a phone whilst driving may be included as a factor in safety-oriented trials. The auto-insurers' move from dedicated telematics technology to smartphone-based data provision was spearheaded by British insurer Aviva in 2012, with massive U.S. insurer Progressive now actively pursuing driver monitoring. However the premium reductions are diminishing as the practice heads from experimental, to default, to obligatory — or so many believe.
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Uber's Smartphone-Based Gyrometer Monitoring Seems To Be the Future of Driving

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  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:08AM (#51373195) Journal
    Do insurers really believe people drive the same way when they know the monitoring device is plugged in?

    I've watched a few episodes of Cops, and the roadside interviews on camera are astonishingly more polite than some I've experienced.

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:23AM (#51373301)

      Do insurers really believe people drive the same way when they know the monitoring device is plugged in?

      Of course people drive differently when being monitored 100% of the time. That's kind of the point here, behavior modification to make driving safer.

      I've watched a few episodes of Cops, and the roadside interviews on camera are astonishingly more polite than some I've experienced.

      Polite or not, every time I see a "roadside" interview I want to drive a sign into the ground that reads "PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE NARCISSISTS".

      Pretty much sums up the benefit of that activity.

      • And the driving differently part is what motivates the discount. You use the device, you have less accidents. The insurance company pays out less money. They pass on part of the savings. Everybody wins financially. In terms of things like privacy and civil rights, that's a much different discussion. At some point, this will be mandatory but that will coincide with the time frame of self-driving cars to the whole thing may be moot.
        • by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @12:56PM (#51374399)

          No this doesn't work as intended.

          Progressive penalizes you for what's called a 'Hard stop' which is 7 Miles per hour of deceleration per second. Living in Austin Texas at the time taught me a few things to avoid the penalty.

          - Run most if not all stop signs in parking lots,
          - Not give any shits about yellow lights
          - Run some red lights if the yellow was too short.
          - Switch lanes rapidly to avoid cars slowing down for *anything*
          - Increased my anger at other drivers for forcing me to hard stop, ( eg: playing it safe and avoiding a head on as someone gets into the wrong lane )

          I had to effectively dive my vehicle like a golf cart to avoid the hits to my discount which translated into poorer driving habits that have persisted long after we switched insurance companies.

          I am not alone in this either. You can spot a progressive driver a mile away.

          Also a good write-up by a blogger here:

          https://blog.joemanna.com/prog... [joemanna.com]

        • It will be much easier if they offer a discount to drivers who install software on their cell phone than if they try to mandate it.

        • The insurance company pays out less money. They pass on part of the savings.

          Speaking as someone who has just had to shop around for their car insurance... no they don't. The one doesn't automatically follow from the other.

    • makes there drivers more like W2's and not 1099's. So how far do they want to push this?

  • by Serialkoala ( 4431245 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:12AM (#51373225)
    So, then Uber drivers and anyone else being monitored for insurance etc, will resort to carrying 2 phones. One tied to their car, one for calling/texting so they can do both simultaneously and not get dinged.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can see an app that hooks in so the gyroscope data and such are not handed over, or faked. An XPrivacy, or a PMP (protect my privacy), perhaps.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I don't think I've been in an Uber where I've seen the driver with less than two phones.

      I'd always assumed one was personal and one was their Uber phone, but maybe for some one is Uber and one is Lyft so they can pick and choose based on where they are.

      • maybe for some one is Uber and one is Lyft so they can pick and choose based on where they are.

        My sister drives for Uber and Lyft. She has both on the same phone, and that has never been a problem. She started out just driving for Uber, but added Lyft for the extra business as soon as they stopped requiring that stupid pink mustache on the front of the car.

    • So, then Uber drivers and anyone else being monitored for insurance etc, will resort to carrying 2 phones. One tied to their car, one for calling/texting so they can do both simultaneously and not get dinged.

      Speaking of dings, feel free to elaborate how an Uber phone addict is going to use 2 phones to text their way out of the accident they caused due to distracted driving.

      Then elaborate as to how this texting addict is going to explain to Uber who monitors this kind of illegal activity why they should not be fired for causing an accident doing something they agreed not to do while driving for the company.

      Not get dinged? Yeah, fat chance of that.

      • They were never an employee of Uber to begin with. Uber has no employees, they're strictly an information service, right? Right?
    • if you are so stupid as to spend more money to call and text while you're driving and increase your risk of an accident, you deserve all that will happen to you
  • The day this shit becomes compulsory for Progressive is the day I find a new insurance company and/or buy 7 more cars (junkers) so I don't have to carry auto insurance. Uhhh, well, maybe not that second option.
    Regardless, this sounds less like the future of driving and more like the future of getting boned on your insurance rates.
    • The day this shit becomes compulsory for Progressive is the day I find a new insurance company and/or buy 7 more cars (junkers) so I don't have to carry auto insurance. Uhhh, well, maybe not that second option. Regardless, this sounds less like the future of driving and more like the future of getting boned on your insurance rates.

      As car ownership declines into nothingness as we face the inevitable future of autonomous driving with vehicles we're not even allowed to own, expect the insurance bullshit to get worse.

      Much fucking worse.

      Here's an example...you act like you're going to have a fucking choice of who you run to when you leave Progressive. You won't, once human monitoring becomes a Federal mandate.

      • I don't think it'll happen soon, at least where I live. There are many things that are far more dangerous on the road that are allowed, like motorcycles and the horse and buggy (I live somewhat close to a Mennonite community). Regardless, they'll have to pry my keys from my cold, dead hands.
      • Didn't Rush predict this in 1981 with "Red Barchetta"? Genius!
        • Quite the contrary. Red Barchetta predicted cars so safe and crash-proof that they could be used as battering rams against older cars. The aggressor vehicles were definitely being driven by people, however.

          Song's based on "A Nice Morning Drive."

          http://www.mgexp.com/article/n... [mgexp.com]

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        It seems unlikely. I do not know as fully autonomous vehicles are anywhere near as close as you seem to think they are, either. For a small example; There are people like me. I've not actually insured a single vehicle that I own (and I own quite a few) in a very long time. Instead, I just insure my license. Any vehicle I drive - even if I do not own it, is insured. And, to touch on the second part, I own a significant number of automobiles - as an aficionado and a collector of sorts. I doubt they'll prohibi

  • Say you break heavily because some arsehole cuts you up and hits his breaks. Happens a lot in the UK, because if you leave adequate stopping distance in front of you some prat will pull into it, realize he is going to read end the guy in front and stomp on his brake. According to data it looks like you are a bad driver who brakes heavily sometimes, even though you are avoiding someone else's mistake.

    Similar issues exist with telematics that uses the ODB-II port to monitor the pedals. In cars with small engi

    • by N1AK ( 864906 )
      What you're talking about isn't an issue. You don't analyse driving based on samples small enough that one incident of hard breaking is going to flag up as an issue. We analyse our fleets performance and the smallest interval we'll typically do any analysis for is ~50 hours driving. A driver would have to show a consistent bias towards excessive breaking over weeks before we'd investigate further. In our case we'd then look up the incidents on the dashcam before taking any action, but with thresholds set ri
      • The driver who is aware of their surroundings but drives in places with crazy drivers will break a lot and sometimes hard, but not cause accidents

        The driver who does not care about the car will break softly and ding other cars, and cause far more accidents ...

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          The driver who is aware of their surroundings but drives in places with crazy drivers will break a lot and sometimes hard, but not cause accidents

          Citation needed, or are you just making stuff up because it 'sounds right' to you. Our drivers do the best part of a million hours driving a year so I'll base my position on the results of that data, and the fact that our insurers discount based on exactly the factors you're claiming would increase accidents thanks.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            They're full of shit. Not only am I an automobile aficionado but I worked in the traffic modeling industry, have driven professionally, and have taken countless advanced driving courses over the years. Hell, I've even gone on vacation (at considerable expense) to take special driving lessons, including classroom time and time spent with a professional coach in the passenger seat or in the driver's seat, while renting exotics and I spent *days* doing laps at Nurburgring. That's just *one* of many examples. I

      • What if the driver does 50hrs with their phone sliding around on the dashboard or in the glove box? That would look like they love cornering hard every time the phone reaches the extremes of its confines and suddenly stops.
        • by N1AK ( 864906 )
          One would assume that if you're going to monitor driver performance based on things like phone accelerometers (in my case the vehicles are fitted with a dedicated device) that you'd tell the driver and they'd be smart enough not to throw it around the car...
          • by rHBa ( 976986 )
            Let's hope they make it clear to their users then, even then though I'm sure there will always be a few stupid/lazy people who slip through the net.
      • I'm almost tempted to sign up, hire myself to drive, than spend the day at a track burning up a set of tires.

        Just to fuck with you.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          That would be awesome! I believe that, during the week, I can get onto the track at Daytona for just a few bucks during the week. I've got my 6 series with me. Hell, want to take turns? We can even buy some slicks and see if we can how high we can get the LA to trip. I'm game for something like that - I'll even let you drive my car for a few laps (it's insured) if you want. It's "that" 6 series. As in dual turbo and ~450 ponies. It's a bit heavy feeling but actually very poised. I've not put it on a track b

          • I was thinking of just piggy backing on a SCCA track day and bringing my mild Mustang (300HP ballpark, just installed yellow Konis and polyurethane). The quarter mile car won't be any fun at whatever they call sears point these days.

            I might just fly to Florida to drive a M6 around Daytona...you've got me thinking. But I couldn't really run someone else's car really hard, like my own. Also super speedways are just insanely dangerous. I was thinking more road course, hard braking and cornering. Spin withou

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              It's got insurance and I own it to be driven. When it breaks, I'll fix it or get a new one. It's just money, they'll make more. Yes it's "bespoke" but that just means I've got some extra sport package features, unusual trim and tires, and some different colors. Oh, and a nice stereo with a fancy HUD that's a little different from the standard model. ;-)

              So, drive it like you stole it. 'Cause if my insurance company asks, that's what I'm gonna tell 'em you did. I kid... I kid... My license, thus any vehicle I

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Also, I have not seen any links between acceleration and accidents.
      Cars accelerating up to speed isn't when accidents typically happen. If anything, those who merge onto a road without having stepped on it are far more likely to cause an accident. Even if they're not always involved.
      Avoiding using more than the first tenth of the gas pedal isn't defensive driving, it's creating dangers for everyone else who already are driving at legal speeds.

      • It's less that hard acceleration per se is an issue (or hard braking), but rather a pattern that combines a lot of the two.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          It's less that hard acceleration per se is an issue (or hard braking), but rather a pattern that combines a lot of the two.

          I still don't see it. Is there any reason to believe that hard braking is more dangerous when also combined with a pattern of hard acceleration, than hard braking alone?

      • Bottom line, it doesn't matter WHY there's a connection, only THAT there's a connection. If a given driving pattern is correlated to higher claim expenses, then it's entirely reasonable for an insurer to charge people who display that pattern a higher premium, and vice versa.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:27AM (#51373325) Homepage

    However the premium reductions are diminishing as the practice heads from experimental, to default, to obligatory -- or so many believe

    I don't have a smart phone, and I don't want one.

    Unless they plan on making ownership of a smart phone as a mandatory condition for providing insurance, which I question the legality of, they simply can't make this obligatory.

    Consenting to being tracked at all times for the benefit of an insurance company? Yeah, go fuck yourselves.

    • You could always go with a Windows smart phone... nobody will ever develop an app for that... ;)

      Years ago I did the data port device thing in my '98 Jeep Cherokee. I was using Progressive at the time and they were rolling this thing out with the promise of significant savings on monthly premium costs.

      I had it plugged in and working for almost a year and was also committed to proving what a safe driver I was. I would never exceed the speed limit, always brake as gently as possible, leave 1 car length for eve

      • Measuring speed vs speed limit is, to me, the worst possible thing to measure. I always exceed the speed limit...because I drive the same speed as (or slightly slower than) everybody else. Around here, 5 to 10 mph over is the average. How will any device fairly report this?

        My money is on tailgating as being the best thing to measure. It astounds me how close others drive to the car in front.

        Also, lateral g-force would be very good to know -- a sign of a bad driver, in my books. Whereas acceleration
        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
          You would have no means to record anything you ask in a meaningful manner. The orientation of the phone is not fixed, so you would be basing the information off of multiple pieces of data and calculating results, none of which are accurate to the necessary degree. Since they don't want you talking on the phone etc anyways, my suggestion would be to drop your phone in an anti-static bag while driving. Solves all the above problems.
        • It is the worst possible way unless, of course, you are in insurance company. The device will fairly report that you are 5-10 over and your rates will adjust accordingly. I think that your argument is that you are an exceptionally good driver (everybody thinks they are) and that the system will be unfair in that it will give you a worse risk score than less competent drivers who happen to obey the speed limit. On the surface, there is some merit to this argument. However, as an insurer, speed is probabl
          • the easiest thing you can do to reduce injuries and death is to simply make everybody slow down

            How do you propose to do that? Radar vans don't ticket vehicles unless they are doing 10mph or more over the limit. So *this* should be the measure of what true speeding is.

            BTW, I'm not saying I'm an exceptional driver. I'm saying something very different -- that I'm typical, and that typical is good.

            Monitoring should only trigger on extremes. Drivers who never go over the speed limit should be ticketed -

    • Unless they plan on making ownership of a smart phone as a mandatory condition for providing insurance, which I question the legality of, they simply can't make this obligatory..

      Why would it be illegal? I suppose it could be regarded as discriminatory against people who can't afford a smartphone, but that's not necessarily a protected class (they already use credit scores in ratings in most states, which have clear correlations with income), and offering to provide the device for free would resolve that issue.

    • by stu72 ( 96650 )

      You've got it backwards.

      You are being monitored because of your decision to put others at risk by accelerating several tons of metal to fatal velocities.

      Unless you're doing it in a private track, you are endangering the public and they have a stake in how you do it,

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Unless they plan on making ownership of a smart phone as a mandatory condition for providing insurance, which I question the legality of, they simply can't make this obligatory.

      They will make it the usual reverse way. If you give them permission to monitor your driving, they will give you a big number of percents off - about the same number that they've just raised their premiums.

      So basically, you have a choice - you can pay more, or you can be monitored.

    • So how do you deal with the wife constantly razzing you to get one? (Or maybe that's just me).
  • What if they don't own a smartphone? What if their smartphone doesn't have gyro bullshit? What if they don't have a phone or data plan, just a phone itself?

    This shit doesn't make sense.

    • Then your rates go up; and, at some point in the future 'regular' insurers just won't cover people who don't fall in line, only high risk places
    • by jiriw ( 444695 )

      Or what if the gyro in their smartphone is unstable?

      I have a Nexus 5 and an Asus tablet. The level and compass apps I've tested on them should use the internal gyro data... Level is reasonably stable but compass is anything but stable. Especially when moving wildly, the compass goes everywhere but in the right direction...

      I'm not against monitoring driver behaviour for drivers transporting passengers on a commercial basis or insurance premium cuts for 'model' drivers. But I do want to see some certified har

  • I know that this tracking and data analysis is only used to verify customer complaints, but I wonder why a complaint against a contract worker needs to be verified? If I am an employee, then there the firm that employs me not only has real costs associated with me but also has laws they need to comply with before terminating me. However, with a contract worker there are fewer costs and no laws preventing with termination. If we believe in the Uber model, driver should be terminated as quickly as possible s
    • Re:employees? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:58AM (#51373553)

      Why wouldn't a company want to be able to assess the quality of its contractors, and decide if a complaint was valid or not? If you work for an outsourced call center company, and the company gets a call saying "I just spoke to CSR Fermion, and he was unhelpful and swore at me," if I'm the company, I'd want to know if the complaint was legit, rather than just having a policy of "drop anyone who gets a complaint."

      The customer is not always right (or sane).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If it came down to monitoring your phones gyro, then I would let my phone dangle from a string on the mirror, and let it swing around while driving. The readings would so wild and out of parameter they couldn't possibly be counted as valid.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The fine print will say that invalid readings default to a penalty most likely.

    • Only idiots have things dangling from their mirrors.

      They are training their cranial collision detectors to not work.

      Think about it. What's the easiest way to 'see' a collision course? (Constant vector.) What does a pendulum do at the end of each swing? (present a constant vector)

  • this is just easily solved by requiring uber to deploy the equivalent of progressive snapshot. Phones are unreliable given they can be tossed about, etc. and, noting, per other threads, that what makes for aggressive driving in the burbs is 'required' to get around in say NYC. My biggest gripe about uber is that when I complain, it sure seems that their helpdesk says 'they'll have a word with the driver,' when in fact, it's the uber corporate that is at fault. An uber snapshot would help better inform th
  • from companies that want to use my data for their business purposes. Once they start getting data they'll want more simply because it's available and can be turned into money. Of course, it may very well become evidence in court cases, since insurance companies and trial lawyers will know what to look for to bolster their case, and third parties may want access as well in matters unrelated to driving. Once a data breach occurs things could get real interesting, especially if they geo tag the data. "Politici
  • use data from the gyrometer in drivers' smartphones, combined with accelerometer and GPS data,

    Also know as Inertial Measurement and Inertial Navigation techniques. Drones, [and some hoverboards] use this all the time (it's their core)...

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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