Smart black box for cars

Imagine a mini ‘black box’ that you can plug into your car, that will drop you an email to help improve your driving and save you money on fuel costs.

Cheshire start-up, Satsafe Limited, has set up its R&D centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury to rapidly prototype the GEOBLOC® – a black box device that incorporates advanced crash detection and crash reconstruction technologies for cars. Its mission is to drastically improve road safety in the UK by supporting drivers with the use of GPS satellite technology.  

Satsafe Geobloc
(Credit: Satsafe Limited)

Stuart Millward, owner and CEO of Satsafe said: “It’s a worrying fact that 20% of all serious accidents in the UK involve young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24, despite this age group forming just 8% of the UK driving population.  By combining GPS satellite technology with very small, ultra-high tech sensors, our GEOBLOC device can accurately record and build a picture of how safely a car is being driven by an individual - with information on acceleration, breaking speed and corner forces.  The technology is connected by GPS to our unique software platform that can then email a driver to alert them to the fact that they are potentially putting themselves and others at risk.” 

The same technology can also provide protection to a driver who had been driving safely at the time of being involved in an accident, providing back up that they weren’t speeding or driving erratically at the time of the incident.

However, it’s not just the younger drivers who will benefit from this technology.  The GEOBLOC can alert an elderly driver, who might be concerned about age-related diminished driver ability, if instances of sudden breaking become more frequent, which is often a common indicator of failing eyesight. 

Cyclists can also benefit as the technology can be fitted into a small bicycle light and set up to notify a relative if a cyclist has been involved in an accident, or if a bike is stolen. It can even alert a parent if their child cycles out of their pre-agreed perimeters of where they are allowed to go.

Satsafe Telematics
(Credit: Satsafe Limited)

Thanks to financial support from the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre at Harwell (ESA BIC Harwell) in Oxfordshire, Satsafe is taking advantage of the advanced engineering facilities at the Campus Technology Hub (CTH) at Sci-Tech Daresbury to refine its range of prototypes. Part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the CTH is a major new facility dedicated to helping businesses to tackle their engineering challenges and bring new products to market faster and more cheaply, without the financial restraints of having to buy or pay high prices to access the very latest technology.   

The move to the CTH follows Satsafe’s recent successful bid to become the lead consortium partner for road safety in Manchester’s £10 million ‘smart city’ CityVerve project.  Funded by Innovate UK, CityVerve will demonstrate the power of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which connects all available data from digital and smart devices within a city, to improve its services in everything from healthcare and law enforcement, to traffic control and air quality, creating a smarter, safer city and enhancing quality of life.

Over the next two years, for its part in CityVerve, Satsafe will be working alongside other project partners to demonstrate the commercial, environmental and societal benefits of telematics technologies as part of a smart city programme, with a particular focus on how it can be used to reduce road accidents across various user groups.  Alongside the young, elderly and vulnerable drivers, this will also include taxis, minibus drivers, social care transport, couriers and light commercial vehicles in the Greater Manchester area. 

"Joining STFC’s Campus Technology Hub at Daresbury, via the ESA-BIC at Harwell, has possibly been the most important strategic development for Satsafe since our inception.” said Millward. “The advanced engineering facilities and specialist support, alongside the funding and advice received to date from the ESA BIC Harwell programme, have been significant for us in terms of credibility and validation now that we are leading the road safety project for CityVerve.

“Telematics technology itself is not new.” he added. “Insurers have been using it for some time to help keep premiums down for responsible young drivers.  But this is the first time that it has been developed and modelled in such a way that it can directly benefit individual drivers.  By educating them about the costs and risks of their driver behaviour, we can help them drive in a safer, more environmentally friendly and cost effective way and, ultimately, save lives.”

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000