- software company nexar, working with a japanese insurance company, has released an ai-based system that combines the use of an app with footage captured on vehicles' dash cams to reconstruct exactly what happened in a crash.
- nexar says the system will detect 90 percent of accidents and lets users submit a report in one click.
- interestingly, the 200,000-plus drivers currently using this new system in japan are paying up to $10 a month for the privilege—not getting a discount from their insurance company.
in not-at-all-creepy news from japan, more than 200,000 drivers are now using an automatic crash reconstruction system that combines cameras, sensors and good old-fashioned artificial intelligence to make sense of car accidents. no more pointing fingers and claiming it's the other guy's fault when you blithely change lanes in your mitsuoka galue and ram some innocent in a suzuki alto lapin turbo straight into the guardrail on the bayshore route to ichikawa. because that lapin turbo, in addition to its 60 horsepower and inimitable style, might be packing a nexar ai crash reconstruction system. in which case, the computer will combine camera footage and information from the car's sensors to draw its own conclusions—as well as alert the authorities the moment things go wrong.
the system is backed by the mitsui sumitomo insurance company—which, besides having a vested interest in knowing when and how accidents happen, also wants to get the aftermath over with as quickly as possible.
this seems like a natural outgrowth of programs like progressive snapshot, wherein you share vehicle data with your insurance company in hopes for a discount—except, in japan, the drivers pay a subscription fee of "less than $10 per month" for the system. (it speaks to our cultural differences that the underlying premise there is proving innocence, which is something you'd pay for.) until now, the crash reconstruction equipment was part of a pilot program, but its success prompted nexar and msi to roll it out to the general public.
after a nexar-equipped car gets in an accident, the system goes to work. combining camera footage, data from motion sensors (meaning, we presume, the radar that underpins many adaptive cruise and automated emergency braking systems), and gps, the software plots the accident on a map. all the cars involved at shown. then the ai gets to work on its report, writing out the timeline of the shunt to describe what happened. this is a relatively simple, just-the-facts representation of what happened, but if the concept takes root, expect ar—augmented reality—to be the next step.
"this is going to be more and more common," says neil mandt, creator of the crimedoor augmented-reality true crime app. "you'll be able to walk into a courtroom and see a 3d ar crash scene. and with an autonomous car, a system like this would be required, because there'll be a need for proof." if cars end up driving themselves, they'll also be the witnesses. and if a car can create a 3d representation of the world in real time as it's driving, it won't be a major leap to generate a detailed replay after an accident.
it will doubtless be a battle to convince the country that coined the phrase "snitches get stitches" to invite insurance companies to install all-seeing eyes in private vehicles. but nexar's system is a preview of what's coming—the black box that not only knows what happened, but can tell the story.