Japan’s SmartDrive unveils DriveOps to help optimize work efficiency with automobile big...

Japan’s SmartDrive unveils DriveOps to help optimize work efficiency with automobile big data

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See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based SmartDrive, providing connected-car related services, this week announced the official launch of DriveOps which enables safe driving support through automobile condition management by connecting specialized devices to the cloud.

DriveOps is a single-packaged cloud service including visualization of driving data or safe driving support for employees, as well as normal business support like expenditure management. Business operators that often use automobiles in daily work such as distribution companies can improve fuel consumption or work efficiency with it.

The device for acquiring data from automobiles has become available for cigar sockets which does not depend on vehicle type, in addition to the conventional type for OBD (on-board diagnostics) port. The acquired data will be sent via smart devices installed specialized app with Bluetooth, or be directly sent with 3G network in another model. The monthly charge is 1,480 yen (about $15) at least per device and users must purchase a data communication device for each automobile.

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The SmartDrive team had been exploring business opportunities leveraging acquired automobile data by connecting communication devices onto OBD port for maintenance since 2014. As a result, the possibility seems to be expanding widely. CEO of the firm Retsu Kitagawa explains the rise of the connected-car business.

Automobile data is required by insurance companies, automobile dealers, car lease companies, after-sales services or the semiconductor industry. The SmartDrive’s platform concept is to customize and provide big data on automobiles for such markets. For example, one of our partner Axa Direct Life Insurance provides a telematics insurance as its own product including the app, so we are a backroom boy completely.

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The acquirable data covers a variety of information: driving distance, urgent brake usage history, speed excess and engine information about failure or fuel. The firm customizes these data as needed for each partner upon provision. This time, DriveOps was launched based on expectation of such a large demand.

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Kitagawa comments on this:

For example, to business operators that need to use automobiles for business promotion, we provide information on how employees drive or whether they should use public transportation and then take automobile at the next office for better work efficiency by measuring driving distance or tracking routes (route search function is under development). There is a case where a 100-car company succeeded in cost reduction of 20 million yen (about $200,000) annually using our current information provision.

This does not mean there had been no way to know of automobile operation status. However, conventional devices like drive recorders or digital tachometers require troublesome mounting work and also cost hundreds of thousands of yen (thousands of dollars).

According to Kitagawa, the service interests major convenience store chains or distribution companies as he surmised. The firm plans to expand data coverage range utilizing on-vehicle camera and aims to realize a cloud service to increase efficiency of persons or businesses around automobiles in the future.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy