With Raksha SafeDrive, a device placed inside your vehicle, you don’t need to worry about calling for help in case of an accident or road emergency. The device will do it for you. This is how.
The year was 2013. Prasad Pillai was back in Trivandrum, his hometown, after living in the US for 15 years. One day, while travelling on a highway, his wife and he narrowly escaped an accident. The brakes of their car snapped when their driver tried to slow down to let a lorry coming from the opposite direction pass. It was then that Prasad realized how different the situation on the roads between the US and India was. While no one was hurt, it was extremely difficult for them to get aid in the face of this crisis here.
They were stranded on the highway without help.
“We came across a pedestrian but he did not know whom to call and how to assist us…We were just going around trying to find a place to get the car repaired. After being unable to find any immediate help, we took some other means of transport, went home and sent someone back to pick up the car. There was a lot of confusion,” says Prasad.
Motivated to help others who might find themselves in similar or even worse conditions, he brought together a team of six people to set up eLsys Intelligent Devices Pvt Ltd, with his friend Jayanth Jagadeesh.
Today, his organization has developed Raksha SafeDrive – a device meant to reduce the time in which help reaches road accident victims, or those stuck in some kind of road emergency.
“India sees a large number of accidents every yeawer. We have simply accepted this hard reality and are moving on with it. But things have to change,” says Prasad.
Raksha SafeDrive is a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) device that is kept inside the car as an accident management system.
IoT is basically a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity. The network enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
Raksha SafeDrive can be used in all kinds of vehicles, like cars, auto rickshaws, bikes, trucks, etc. Here are some of its important features:
1. Advanced crash sensors:
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With its crash detection technology, Raksha SafeDrive ensures that help will reach when needed without any unnecessary delay. The device automatically detects crashes and uses its cellular connectivity – a SIM card that makes it operate like a phone — to contact help. In the case of a crash, the device automatically alerts local emergency responders like friends, family, police officials, and hospitals, even if the driver and other people are unable to do so. The team is currently working on developing a safety platform called Raksha. This will be the base (a call centre) where people will automatically receive a call from the device in case of an emergency. So, no one needs to report an accident as such.
Up to five primary contacts can be configured by the user and the device will keep calling until someone picks up.
The device uses an algorithm to find out the severity of the accident. The sensors also distinguish between potholes, road bumps, and sudden braking to avoid false alarms.
2. GPS tracker:
With the help of a GPS tracker placed inside the device, call centre executives and all emergency contacts will know where the accident took place.
3. Panic Button:
In case of an accident or roadside emergency like a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, the panic button on the device can be pressed and it opens a two-way voice call communication channel between the user and the call centre. The call centre is a 24×7 support centre, which is able to help via the phone, providing information on how to deal with a particular situation.
4. Driver performance:
The device also tells users how well their driver is driving. It analyses the speed of the vehicle and other parameters to let the passengers know if they need to caution the driver. This could be helpful for people who have employed a new driver or in monitoring public vehicles.
“Many people die on Indian roads because they don’t get immediate help. The onlookers are not well equipped with the required information to help accident victims. But we can avoid such chaotic situations. We don’t need to wait for people to call someone,” says Prasad.
“Our aim is to give people peace of mind when people are travelling. We think that this is something India deserves. Roads in the country are getting better. Our cars are also getting better. So why is the rate of death due to accidents not coming down? It’s because emergency services are not as structured as they should be and we are trying to change that,” adds Prasad’s partner, Jayanth.
The duo set up an online campaign to collect funds to start this project and also to make people aware about the existence of such a device.
A prototype of Raksha SafeDrive is now ready and is being tested by the team.
They are working on setting up the backend support and the call centre. The device will be available in the market by February 2016, at a cost of Rs. 10,000. This includes one year service cost, after which users will need to pay a yearly fee of about Rs. 1,000, depending on the services they want to avail.
Raksha SafeDrive can be pre-ordered here.