Renault plans driver reward app
22 March 2016
Author: Guy Bird
Renault has developed a mobile app that monitors driver behaviour and health and awards points to encourage both.
Like a 21st century upgrade of old-school black-box technology but without the hardware installation issues,
My Driving Partner app is the result of a collaboration between specialists at the French marque's Silicon Valley innovation centre and Microsoft, and learns your regular driving routes before awarding points for the safest and most economical driving style, as well as monitoring driver health - like heart rate and temperature - through a biometric wristband.
One business idea for the app, still at a trial stage, is that points gained could then be exchanged for incentives for company car drivers and that the cost of the app could be built into a monthly lease (with associated residual value benefits).
BusinessCar gained an exclusive drive using the technology on Californian streets and it soon improved our driving.
"If I accelerate too fast and make sharp turns," explained Sebastien Henot, manager of business innovation, Renault Innovation Silicon Valley, "the system puts me on probation so I can't score any points for a minute. But when I master certain parts of a route, the car awards me points in recognition of my improvement. The more you use it, the more safely you drive."
It's not all 'stick' either. If the car assesses that a certain stretch of road is safe to go faster on, it will adjust the suspension settings to allow you to enjoy a more enthusiastic drive.
And if you've had enough of the various frowning eyebrow icons on screen if your driving is not considered good enough, you can always turn off the points-scoring 'Challenge' mode and switch to 'Companion' where no points are awarded and you are no longer judged by your car (although your fleet manager may ask you why you switched that mode off).
Unlike old black-box tech, that had to be bolted on, this new app-based software can be utilised by any regular car that has a screen interface and connectivity.
"It's something pretty smart with basic bricks," Henot added. Twenty drivers have recently used the technology in an internal company trial in Paris and a spokesman for Renault said the system "is being evaluated for the UK".