Rewarding good drivers with a CARAT

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16 March 2010

There are many reasons why drivers need to keep within speed limits, but the overriding issue is the safety of road users:inappropriate speed kills.

Establishing speed limits on selected road segments and enforcing penalties for exceeding the limit has been the traditional “stick" approach employed by local, regional and nationalauthorities.

But what about an alternative approach that rewards drivers for good driving behaviour with points that may be exchangedfor tangible benefits, such as reduced insurance premiums or a lower motor tax?

GSW will demonstrate an intelligent speed adaptation solution that is based on emerging satellite navigation technology. © GSWGSW will demonstrate an intelligent speed adaptation solution that is based on emerging satellite navigation technology. © GSW

GSW will demonstrate an intelligent speed adaptation solution that is based on emerging satellite navigation technology. © GSW

The idea of using a “carrot” rather than the “stick” approach is the principle behind the Galileo Speed Warning (GSW) project, which received European Community research funding through the SeventhFramework Programme (FP7). This 18-month project started in January 2009.

CARAT Counter

“Essentially GSW will demonstrate an intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) solution that is based on emerging satellite navigation technology,” says Jonathan Guard from Avego, the project’scoordinator.

The purpose of the project is to explore two of the most significant challenges to ISA: consumer acceptance and the technologyitself.

Consumer acceptance is critical as despite widespread awareness that speeding kills, there is a large subset of drivers who consider themselves to be ‘careful and compliant’, but who still regularly exceed the speed limit. GSW will test ISA systems that could induce such drivers to make a sustained behaviour change.

The key to the technology is the use of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) signals, as will be provided by Europe’s Galileo system, which will provide greater accuracy and have a highavailability. These qualities are important to ensuring that ISA systems do not misreport a vehicle’s compliance with local speed limits.

“Drivers need to trust the application,” Guard stresses. “ISA is an autonomous system which uses the satellite data to accurately position the vehicle and calculate its speed independently of the vehicle’s instruments. Really accurate positioning for the vehicle on the road is essential. Galileo will provide a higher accuracy and signal availability than the current GPS. This will also help reduce the cost of the system.”

At the core of the GSW project is the CARAT (Continuous Assessment of Road ATtributes) Counter and a related ISA device. The software allows ‘CARAT’ points to be accumulated when the driver maintains an appropriate vehicle speed. The speed at which points are accumulated is defined in a configurable band related to the speed limit for the road segment the vehicle is on.

If the driver exceeds the defined speed band, points are not awarded. The CARAT counter won’t start again until the driver returns to a speed within the defined range. The longer the driver drives above the speed limit, the longer it takes before the driver can return to accumulating CARAT points at the maximum rate.

At the end of the journey the driver will be able to compare the actual CARAT points they have accumulated with the theoretical maximum for their journey.

“We are trying to influence driver behaviour using a carrot rather than a stick,” explains Guard. “By maximising their CARAT points drivers should maximise safety.”

Points mean prizes!

The CARAT points can be transferred from the vehicle to a computer and exchanged for tangible benefits. CARAT points might be traded for reduced prices for services such as insurance premiums or for a lower motor tax. Or, like frequent flyer miles, the points might be exchanged for goods. The important factor is the points have a tangible value to the driver.

As well as the demonstration planned for the Galileo Application Days (see below) a number of trials of the CARAT concept are underway as a means of gaining feedback about the system. “We are working with a large insurance company and also with Transport for London who have an on-going ISA trial in which GSW will be incorporated,” says Guard.

Feedback from stakeholders and drivers on the value of the application is very important.

“We need to know what makes drivers stay within the speed band – what level of reward can change driver behaviour,” explains Guard. “Calibrating the benefit that accumulating points can bring to drivers is a key project goal.”

In the future, an ISA device could be a standard feature of your car. “The idea is to incorporate the ISA unit into existing driver controls and instruments such as the speedometer,” says Guard.

Hardware independent

The GSW team is developing a system that is independent of the ISA hardware and would allow deployment across a range of different units. “The architecture of CARAT counter software is designed to be independent of the ISA device,” says Guard.

Project coordinator Avego was originally part of geographic information systems and location intelligence solutions company Mapflow, but was spun off from the parent in early 2009. The company focuses on the use of real-time passenger information and real-time systems for transport efficiency applications. Its main technical role in GSW is to develop the software for the project.

Project partner Technolution, a Dutch company, has over 21 years of experience in the development of intelligent transport systems (ITS), both for in-vehicle and roadside equipment. Their role is to develop the hardware interface to integrate the CARAT Counter software into their ISA unit.

The University of A Coruña in Spain, another project partner, is providing experts in product design to assess and develop the user experience. This will ensure that the ISA device does not distract drivers but still positively influences their behaviour.

Galileo Application Days in Brussels

At Galileo Application Days in Brussels the GSW project will demonstrate the concept using a car with an on-board ISA unit with a CARAT Counter. “We will be taking visitors to the GSW stand for a drive around Brussels so they can experience CARAT Counter collection for themselves,” says Guard.

For those who cannot visit the stand, a CARAT Counter simulator can be found on the GSW website (see below).

Galileo Application Days, 3-5 March, kicked off this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC). Live demonstrations of cutting-edge satellite navigation applications using EGNOSand Galileo were held at the event’s ‘Application Village’.

The event was hosted by the European Commission and was organised by the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA)and the Application Centre for Satellite Navigation in Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO), the managing organisation for ESNC (Galileo Masters).

Galileo, Europe’s global navigation satellite system, is scheduled to become operational in 2014. Fully interoperable with the USA’s GPS and Russia's GLONASS systems, it will providehighly accurate, guaranteed global positioning services.

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe’s ‘pre- Galileo' system. It improves the accuracy ofthe open public service offered by GPS.

Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you do republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the GSA website (

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Updated: Sep 08, 2014