Monday, April 9, 2018

Paracoat Products Focusing On Innovations Around Driver Monitoring Systems

Driver management has always been a huge challenge in India, be it the passenger vehicle or commercial vehicle space. Paracoat Products Ltd, a well-known NVH solution provider, has taken up the challenge of coming up with an innovative solution that it claims will alleviate the ‘driver handling’ concerns of customers in a big way. Auto Tech Review caught up with Rajesh Poddar, Director, Paracoat Products Ltd to know more about the driver management system (DMS) that was showcased at the recently-concluded Auto Expo.

At the expo, Paracoat rolled out three types of dash cams – front, internal and rear. While the front and rear cams will come into play in cases of a vehicle being involved in an incident, the internal cam tracks the behaviour of not just the driver but also of the passengers. The internal cam could work wonders for cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber, said Poddar, as it can not only track driver behaviour but also passenger behaviour. This is critical, since passenger misbehaviour does not generate the same kind of attention like driver misbehaviour in India.

The feedback from radio cab drivers has been very encouraging for the company. Poddar has himself taken over 30 rides in radio cabs, and “all of them” have shown interest in buying the cams at their own cost, because it is for their safety, he claimed. The company intends to sell the dash cams through OES partners as well as OEMs’ accessory showrooms.

Paracoat also showcased an in-cabin sensing technology, which it claims will track drowsy or drunken driving and pre-empt any untoward road accidents, especially in the commercial vehicle space. An estimated 60-70 % of road accidents in India are attributed to trucks. There are no regulations to monitor truck drivers in the country, and they are often found tired, drowsy and at times, drunk. This is what this in-cabin sensing technology aims to address. The DMS will set-off a buzzer, when it detects a driver feeling drowsy. With the aid of the GPS technology, the system will also inform the fleet manager about the health of the driver, and his location.

Paracoat also entered into a licensing arrangement with Israel-based eyeSight Technologies for this in-cabin sensing technology. Under this arrangement, the company is importing the hardware and software from Israel and will do the installation, servicing and monitoring, if any issues crop up, said Poddar.

Part of the DMS is a driver identification system (DIS) that integrates biometrics and retina into the sensor. Simply put, this system recognises drivers of a particular truck, and any unauthorised person driving the truck will be flagged. The DIS will ensure that the truck will not start unless the driver is recognised. If at all a driver wants himself replaced by somebody else, he will have to contact the call centre and get the new driver identified or recognised, before the latter can proceed with the journey.

Daimler has recently announced that it will deploy such a technology in their trucks, Poddar informed. He is confident that every truck company, school buses and public buses will be keen to deploy such a technology.

The company also unveiled a gesture control infotainment system that it claims will help avoid driving distractions, such as increasing or decreasing music volume, changing music channels or attending to phone calls. Fitted with a small camera, the infotainment system can respond to the driver’s voice or by just raising the hand to receive or lowering his hand to refuse a call. The company is looking to forge tie-ups with multiple Tier 1 infortainment system guys on how to in-build this sensor into their infotainment and make it a compact package for OEMs, said Poddar.

The company also rolled out an EV battery charger that features a display board. This interchangeable display board, Poddar said, could be used to post advertisements. It will enable shops adjacent to the battery charging stations to post commercials for customers, who may like to eat or engage in something else during the time his vehicle battery is being charged, said Poddar.

Most OEMs have an EV somewhere across the globe and bringing them to India will be a huge challenge, he said. Moreover, he recognises that putting in place an EV battery infrastructure will be a gargantuan task. The company nonetheless is seeking opportunities to set-up EV battery charging infrastructure across relevant markets.

At the expo, the company also rolled out a battery cover that ensures the heat from the engine does not go into the battery, enhancing the battery life by a claimed 30 %. Business overall has been good for the company in the last five years, growing at 14-15 annually. This year, Poddar said aiming to grow at 20 % on the back of the various future-ready solutions rolled out recently.
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