By coincidence, our founders Erik and Paul are talking to each other about road safety for the first time, while they are both actively participating in traffic. During a bike ride on a Sunday in 2016, the conversation gets distracted in traffic by smartphones. A serious, worldwide problem that not only costs a lot of money every day, but also lives. Why do we all seem to accept that reality, and why are its effects and frequency only increasing? Erik and Paul find each other in this subject, and together they look for a real solution to this worldwide problem.
Preventive solutions such as campaigns with an imperative tone and a pointing finger, or repressive solutions such as sky-high fines and stricter controls, simply do not accomplish enough. It's been that way for years, and it doesn't seem to be changing, despite the severity of the problem. A solution must be found in which technology no longer facilitates undesirable behavior, but rather facilitates desirable behaviour. The challenge is clear: How can we allow the smartphone to play only a desirable role in traffic? The solution soon presents itself: technology that automatically limits the driver's smartphone use while driving the vehicle to the navigation options, and the hands-free controls that fall within the framework of the law.
A technology chain is needed, a solution with the lowest possible acceptance threshold for end users. No hard-to-install hardware and software with difficult operation, but a simple, effective and above all unobtrusive total solution. In order to be able to switch quickly and to operate as independently as possible, a combination of knowledge and skills must be acquired to make hardware, embedded software and an app yourself. That soon works, and in the same year that Paul and Erik meet, SafeDrivePod is a fact. With a small core team, SafeDrivePod will already release a functional, ready-to-market version in November 2016.
With the release of their solution in 2016, SafeDrivePod is immediately noticed: they win the Fleet Industry Award from Fleet Europe, and in January 2017 the first customer is connected. A year later, the Fleet Safety Award from Brake, the British road safety organization followed. Later in the year, SafeDrivePod will be a finalist at the Startup Competition by the International Road Transport Union in Oman. In 2021 SafeDrivePod finishes in the top 3 of the UK Fleet Champions Awards.
The recognition for the hard work is wonderful, but of course the mission is far from being accomplished. A new version will follow in 2019, in which upgraded hardware makes a large amount of new functionalities possible. In order to increase its effectiveness, SafeDrivePod will become part of the AutoBinck Group in 2020. Later that year, there will be a development in which more focus will be placed on solutions that can map road behavior without infringing on the privacy of individual drivers. This product expansion will continue in 2021, when SafeDrivePod will compete as a finalist for the Automotive Innovation Award. A wide range of complementary features is created. These are all aimed at structurally reducing the safety risks, costs and environmental impact of daily road traffic.
With a focus on the business market, SafeDrivePod tries to get a foothold with its solutions as quickly as possible. But of course it can't stop there. The more widely safety-enhancing techniques are adopted, the faster we can all save lives. After all, that's the stake. In addition to onboarding drivers of commercial vehicles, or vehicles driven on behalf of an organisation, there are huge, highly impactful steps to be taken in the consumer market in the field of road safety. Our mission is not only a conviction, but also our deepest desire. With this future market expansion, we really want everyone to come home safely after every ride.